Isaac Brockman wins IFB Collegiate Discussion Meet

By Tammie Sloup

Isaac Brockman feels more confident about the future of agriculture after competing in his first and final Illinois Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet.

The Illinois State University senior, whose family farms corn and soybeans in Grundy County, walked away with the first-place title Friday.

“It really gives me confidence knowing that there are other Young Leaders within the state that are knowledgeable and motivated to take on these big issues,” Brockman told FarmWeek. “I think this is a big step into my journey as a Young Leader ... which I’m really excited about. But I know for the next 14 years that I have potential to take part in other Young Leader events.”

Brockman, who’s studying ag business and serves as president of the Illinois State University Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter, will go on to represent Illinois at the national meet during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference Feb. 25-28 in Louisville, Ky.

In all, nine students competed in Friday’s meet at IFB’s home office in Bloomington. The annual competition brings collegiate members together to exchange information and ideas on current issues facing the agricultural industry with the intent to reach viable solutions. Contestants are judged on their ability to manage small-group discussion, problem-solving skills, cooperative attitude and knowledge of topics presented.

Friday’s topics included:

  • How can Farm Bureau improve its effectiveness at recruiting Young Farmers and Ranchers members and increase participation?
  • How can Farm Bureau policy support easing government regulations to ensure long-term economic viability for local animal processing facilities?
  • How can Farm Bureau help farmers and ranchers increase their efficiency in the use of renewable resources and transition to green energy practices?

Rounding out the Final Four were:

  • Second place: Seth Mitchell, Richland County, University of Illinois
  • Third place: Leah Moorman, McDonough County, Western Illinois University
  • Fourth place: Zachary Zwiebel, Will County, Joliet Junior College

Brockman said he started preparing with the provided prompts about a week ago, watching similar meets on YouTube and then recording himself in a mock discussion. He encouraged anyone studying ag in college to consider competing.

“The only thing you’re out is a day of classes,” he said. “You have so much networking potential here with people from all across the state,” he said. “When you get in the room you feel like you’re just having a conversation with your friends and your peers.”

The other students who competed were:

  • Tyler Barrington, Mercer County, Western Illinois University
  • Hannah Carlock, Cass County, Western Illinois University
  • Mackenzie Hodupp, Will County, Joliet Junior College
  • Luke Jesgarz, Shelby County, Western Illinois University
  • Alivia Lantz, Hancock County, Western Illinois University

Prizes for the IFB meet include a $1,500 scholarship courtesy of GROWMARK, Inc. and $200, along with expense-paid trips to the national competition and IAA Annual Meeting for first place; second place receives $150 and an expense-paid trip to the national meet and Annual meeting; third and fourth place winners both receive $100.

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