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Working together in agriculture

Marshall High School ag teacher advances to finals in the Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers contest

February 25, 2010
By Cindy Votruba

MARSHALL - When Paul Lanoue is talking about agriculture in his classes, he is usually comfortable in front of his students.

But when it came to discussing that same subject in a recent competition, Lanoue admitted he was a little anxious.

Lanoue, an agriculture education teacher at Marshall High School and FFA adviser, was among one of eight semifinalists for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet contest Jan. 29-31 in Bloomington.

He moves onto the final two rounds of competition at the MFBF annual meeting in November.

Lanoue had joined the Farm Bureau two years ago at Farm Fest and was encouraged to participate in the contest. He said he had seen the national competition a couple of years ago.

"This is the first time I've ever competed in it," Lanoue said.

Lanoue said the contest is eligible for young people in agriculture who are under age 35. There were 16 contestants in January's competition.

The contest is a little like a speech competition, Lanoue said. He was given a topic and was able to research in advance.

Then at the actual contest, the contestants give their opening statements state their position and points of discussion, Lanoue said.

"After that it's kind of a free-for-all where we discuss the topics in-depth," Lanoue said.

One of the topics, Lanoue said, was "how we have a changing population with less connectivity to agriculture."

"How do we inform and educate them," Lanoue said.

Lanoue said contestants receive points based on the knowledge of the content, facilitation skills, and most importantly, a cooperative attitude.

"Because it's supposed to simulate a board meeting where they're discussing different topics of agriculture," Lanoue said.

Lanoue said he was a little nervous going into January's competition.

"I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would," Lanoue said.

As a semifinalist, Lanoue also gets to go to Washington, D.C. in September to meet with elected officials and people in the Department of Agriculture.

Lanoue said it won't be as easy to prepare for the finals.

"The question areas aren't as defined," Lanoue said.



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