GFB YF&R Members Leave Their Mark in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City recently hosted some of the brightest young minds in agriculture for the Young Farmer and Rancher competitions, including the discussion meet. Representing Georgia was Andy Paul from Oglethorpe County, who expressed his excitement for the opportunity.

“It’s huge. Just to know that I was chosen by folks in Georgia to represent the state that I love, this is one of the biggest honors that I’ve ever gotten. So, very grateful,” said Andy Paul.

Preparing for the competition was a serious task for Paul, who dedicated countless hours to studying.

“I’ve tried to study at least an hour every night for the past two months or so. And that’s the minimum. But it’s been a lot, just podcasts and resources, and there’s such a wide variety of things that we had to study for that it’s been constantly on my mind for a minute now,” Paul explained.

His hard work paid off as he advanced into the sweet 16 against equally enthusiastic competitors.

“Everybody is so passionate and everybody is so talented at what they do. But the thing that I love is when we do sit down at the table, we do our opening statements. And then it’s time for us to discuss for twenty-five minutes, everybody cares more about the agriculture and issue than they do their own talking points. And I think that’s just the coolest thing to be a part of,” Paul remarked.

In the Excellence in Ag competition, Franklin County’s Cole and Nicole Roper finished in the top 10, providing them a platform to share their journey.

“I think that being able to share your story is something that extremely is important. And Cole and I both are very passionate about being able to share with others what we do. You know, it’s so hard as agriculturalists sometimes that people don’t understand what do you do every day? And so, being able to share that with people and being able to compete and being able to explain what we do on our farm is very exciting,” Nicole Roper expressed.

“The main message we were getting across was impact. Whether that’s an impact on your community, the impact on your state, or your nation. And the impact for us starts in our community with our sweet corn operation and the impact we can leave on our community as well as that next generation,” added Cole Roper.

These events also facilitate the exchange of new ideas among competitors.

“Whether it’s the people from North Carolina or Tennessee, we’ve also met a couple from Arizona and Utah. Just being able to network with them and see how they do things on their operation has been very valuable,” Cole shared.

“Being able to learn what they do on their farm and how some different practices that maybe we can take back to our farm is something that was very beneficial to Cole and I, that we experienced today,” Nicole added.

While networking and exchanging ideas are major reasons for participating in these events, it remains a competition at its core.

“We grow up in organizations. We grow up playing sports or in FFA of 4-H and we get this natural drive to compete. And then, once you graduate, there’s not as many opportunities for that. And so if you love to compete, it’s the chance to get back in. If you love to learn, get back involved and if you love to speak, this, this is the spot for you,” Andy concluded.

By: Damon Jones