At last month’s Indiana Farm Bureau annual state convention, Whitley County’s Justin Johnson was the winner of the Young Farmers & Ag Professionals Discussion Meet. Johnson is a senior at Purdue where he is majoring in both agricultural systems management and farm management with a minor in crop science. He hopes to work in the precision ag industry upon graduation.
“I’ve been competing for a few years now,” says Johnson. “I did at the collegiate level and a few years now at the young farmers level, so this is really exciting. I’ve come close a few times and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I really do it for the fun and it’s just a really cool opportunity to get to actually win and go compete at the national level.”
Johnson and other finalists discussed common dilemmas and potential problems facing farmers like promoting good mental health, a more preventative approach to farm safety, and issues relating to the meat processing industry due to COVID.
“To me, it’s been a lot to do with getting to know a lot more about the subject matters directly. You know, I grew up in agriculture, grew up farming, I’m an ag student, so that’s part of what I’m doing and that’s part of my passion, but to get to spread out and learn more about different parts of the industry that I might not actually research as much without having those prompts has been really exciting. And then just the ability to actually meet friends throughout the competition, throughout competing. I’ve met a lot of really great people. There are a lot of networking opportunities as far as that goes.”
Johnson encourages others to get involved in the discussion meet process next year.
“Don’t ever think that there’s some limit for you to be involved with that…I don’t care what part of the industry you’re in, I don’t care if you aren’t directly in this industry, I don’t care if you think you’re good public speaker, it’s a great opportunity to really learn a lot about the current subjects, it’s a great opportunity to meet people, and it’s so much fun to just get an opportunity to sit up there and just to have a conversation with people. So, my advice would be don’t let anything limit you.”
Johnson received a $4,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance for his win and an expenses paid trip to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in the national discussion meet this weekend.
The three runners-up were Kyla Schroeder of Perry County, Joseph Tempel of Spencer County, and Jessica Baggerman of Huntington County. They each received $1,000 from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.