Sheridan College student Becka Nutting discussed agriculture issues at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Collegiate Discussion Meet and earned a $1,000 cash scholarship and an expense-paid trip to the national competition in Omaha, Neb.   

Students representing Sheridan College, Central Wyoming College and Eastern Wyoming College competed February 1 in Laramie. The competition is designed to simulate the Farm Bureau Federation’s policy development process in a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected. The competition provided a challenge to discuss real time agriculture issues of concern and determine a potential solution.  

Nutting described the competition as unforgettable. “Not only did I gain a large amount of knowledge, but it also broadened my insights in what happens in different parts of our state,” Nutting said. “Not one producer will do something exactly like a neighbor, yet bringing forth new ideas to all will always be beneficial.” 

According to Nutting, the knowledge gained from conversations with her peers was eye-opening. “I learned how agriculture resources should be managed, how we can sustain agriculture over the coming years and everything in between,” Nutting said. 

“I think the biggest take-away from the competition was the need to be willing to help those around us to make all of us more successful,” she continued.

As a dual major at Sheridan College, Nutting feels the competition is a great preparation for her educational endeavors. “Being able to be a part of competitions like this makes me confident in the path I am taking at college,” she said. “I believe we all learn from our peers so having this knowledge to prepare me for the next two years and beyond is extremely rewarding.”

Brand Terrell, a Sheridan College student, was named the runner-up and was awarded a $150 cash prize.  From Gillette, Terrell is majoring in agriculture business.

Rounding out the “Final Four” finalists were Cooper Larkin, Sheridan College student, and Cannon Cook, Eastern Wyoming College student.  From Torrington, Larkin is studying ag business. From Greybull, Cook is studying precision agriculture.

Contestants are given pre-determined topics.  They are judged on their knowledge, speaking ability, ability to participate in a committee meeting and listen to others and air all points of view.   All contestants competed in two rounds of competition.  The top four advanced to the “Final Four” round.  

The “Final Four” discussion topic was: “Agriculture uses water for everything from growing crops, raising livestock and moving products to and from farms and ranches. Water issues are often hotly debated, are unique to each region and can pose significant challenges to growers. How can Farm Bureau help address water management challenges and seek long term solutions for farmers and ranchers?”

Sheridan College Agriculture Business Instructor Angel Sparkman says the competition is a great co-curricular event that complements an all-around educational experience. “The opportunity to put into practice all of the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom into a direct application in the ag world is invaluable,” Sparkman said. 

“The meet and preparation helps the student fulfill our three core abilities at Sheridan College:  critical thinking, acquire and apply knowledge, and communicate effectively.  This discussion meet is the trifecta for accomplishing these objectives,” Sparkman continued. “As an educator, I measure how well I do my job on how prepared my students are in their next step:  rancher, farmer, college student, citizen, employee.”

“Having an opportunity to participate in this meet is a great simulation of life and an opportunity for all of us to have great discussion on the topics that affect our agricultural world today and tomorrow,” Sparkman concluded.

Nutting will represent the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation in the American Farm Bureau Federation Collegiate Discussion Meet March 8-11, 2024 in Omaha, Neb. From Billings, Montana, she is a first-year student at Sheridan College pursuing degrees in agriculture business and animal science.

Nutting is looking forward to the national competition. “I am extremely excited to meet all kinds of new people from across the United States, to learn their insights on agriculture from different regions, and how it can help me make the greatest impact on agriculture in the future,” Nutting concluded.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation mission is to represent the voices of Wyoming farmers and ranchers through grassroots policy development while focusing on protecting private property rights, strengthening agriculture, and supporting farm and ranch families through advocacy, education, and leadership development.