Ryan Willits, left, receives a plaque from Zach Hunnicut, Farm Bureau Young Farmer’s chair from Nebraska, for his participation in the Collegiate Discussion Meet held at The American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. Feb. 8-11. He also received a $500 scholarship.
(Morrisville, NY – March 12, 2013) Ryan Willits, a Morrisville State College student from Copenhagen, N.Y., represented New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) in the Collegiate Discussion Meet held at The American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. Feb. 8-11.
Willits, a freshman in the agriculture business program, qualified for the national competition after placing first at the New York State Collegiate Discussion Meet competition held at Cornell University.
During the three-day leadership and development conference in Arizona, Willits participated in numerous sessions where he learned about the Farm Bill, rising trends in the agricultural industry, and how to be a better leader.
“This was an amazing opportunity,” he said. “I met so many people with the same passion and aspirations as me, and I was exposed to how different people and the world are.”
The Collegiate Discussion Meet is a competition in which four contestants simulate a committee meeting where they discuss rising issues in the agricultural industry and develop possible solutions for these problems, taking into account how the problems change across state boundaries.
Judging is based on contestants’ constructive criticism, cooperation, and communication while analyzing agricultural problems and developing solutions.
“We were evaluated on our speaking ability, our knowledge of the problem, our ability to effectively discuss with others and our critical thinking ability as it applied to coming up with a solution,” Willits said.
A member of Dairy Club, Collegiate Future Farmers of America (CFFA), and Morrisville Fresh LLC, Willits was named to the Dean’s List and received the Mustang and FFA State Officer Scholarships.
A 2012 graduate of Lowville Academy and Central School, he is the son of Jennifer and Melvin Phelps of Copenhagen.
The American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference focuses on leadership and personal development opportunities for Farm Bureau young farmers and ranchers.
The interactive leadership development conference also featured motivational speakers, tours of agricultural operations, and the Collegiate Discussion Meet competition which provided networking opportunities for more than 800 young farmers and ranchers from at least 45 states.