The goal for the Indiana winner of Discussion Meet was to make the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Sweet 16. Sunday night at Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Nashville, TN Julie Thalen was “ecstatically excited” when she learned she was one of the top 16. The agricultural education teacher at Clinton Central High School didn’t advance beyond that round, but the experience will help her in the classroom, and that was another of her priorities.
She explains Discussion Meet “really opens up the doors and shows what the really important issues are happening in agriculture. These topics were picked last year but you look at what’s happening, what’s important and where are we headed. And I think a lot of it is long term thinking about we are doing in Farm Bureau and the whole agriculture sector. So for me it’s things I can actually apply in my classroom, apply in life as a Farm Bureau member, but also just apply with the different things that I’m liking and enjoying and doing within the agriculture sector to be prepared for things down the road.”
Topics discussed at the national meet included immigration reform and encouraging more people to move home to rural communities. Discussion Meet judging is based on knowledge of the issue and ability to participate and bring others into the discussion, so it is not a debate. That can be challenging.
“The sweet 16 competition was very intense. There were 4 of us, one from California, one from Illinois and another from Michigan and it was a very intense conversation. We all had our openings and our closings but the meat of the Discussion Meet is actually the discussion that you have in the middle 25 minutes. It’s a very interesting time and there are a lot of different items that get brought up and how you sort through them and what you discuss or spend more time on is what really makes the points for the actual contest.”[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Julie-Thalen-gets-goal.mp3|titles=Julie Thalen gets goal]
To prepare there was continual research including meetings with many Hoosiers across the state. Hear more in the full HAT interview:[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Julie-Thalen-at-Sweet-16-AFBF.mp3|titles=Julie Thalen at Sweet 16 AFBF]