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Penn State Student Wins PA Farm Bureau's Collegiate Discussion Meet

Posted: November 25, 2014

Collegiate Chapter member William H. Ziemendorf will participate in the national competition in February.
PSU Collegiate Chapter of Farm Bureau members: Back row, Adviser Ron Hoover, William H. Ziemendorf, David Zimmerman, Tyler Funk; Front, Advisor Dr. Ann Swinker, Nicole McCord, Kelley Jay and Angela Becker.

PSU Collegiate Chapter of Farm Bureau members: Back row, Adviser Ron Hoover, William H. Ziemendorf, David Zimmerman, Tyler Funk; Front, Advisor Dr. Ann Swinker, Nicole McCord, Kelley Jay and Angela Becker.

 William H. Ziemendorf, who is from Niagara County,NY, and a plant science student in the College of Agricultural Sciences, won the Collegiate Farm Bureau Discussion Meet held in November as part of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's (PFB) 62th annual meeting. Ziemendorf will receive an expense paid trips to AFBF's Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference, in February, to compete in the national collegiate Discussion Meet in Tennessee.

Members of the Collegiate Chapter of Farm Bureau, he joined others from Penn State, including  William H Ziemendorf, David Zimmerman, Tyler Funk, Nicole McCord, Kelley Jay, and Angela Becker. Advisers Dr. Ann Swinker, Associate Professor in Equine Science, and Ron Hoover, Senior Project Associate in Plant Science, accompanied the students and helped prepare them for the competition. Students from the Collegiate Farm Bureau at Delaware Valley also participated.

Dr. Swinker said the discussion meets provide an opportunity to help students develop their basic discussion and communication skills while gaining a better understanding of current issues affecting agriculture. "I am very proud of our students who worked hard to prepare, and who displayed their ability to analyze issues and reach consensus."

Ziemendorf, a PSU Plant Science major, said, "Issues in agriculture today seem to be intertwined, so I used a lot of information that I had gained in my classes. I relied on the knowledge I had, doing just a little research." He said he is looking forward to the national competition because "it will allow me to be in touch with other agricultural leaders and will open networking opportunities."

Laura Brenner, committee director for PFB, said the participants work together to cooperatively solve a problem through exchanging ideas and information." She said the discussion meet is a unique concept that challenges young Farm Bureau members to help solve problems.


Brenner, a founding member of the collegiate chapter at Penn State and a 2013 graduate, said, "The contest is helpful for professional development, helping participants build on their public speaking skills and network with professionals in agri-business. Questions touch on a lot of different aspects of agriculture, so they need to have broad knowledge and opinions."

Judges evaluate the competition on the basis of an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic and look for contestants who offer constructive criticism, and cooperation in analyzing problems and developing solutions.

In addition to the collegiate division, there is a division for Young Farmer and Rancher members. 

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state's largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 50,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.