Wednesday, January 14, 2015

County native finish in top 16 in national event

J-E Editor
Onton native Cameron Edwards spent the weekend in San Diego, California, where he represented the state of Kentucky in the national Discussion Meet competition at the 96th American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention.

Edwards won the state competition in December at the annual state meet.
“Our state finals are held at the annual state meet in front of 2,000 people,” Edwards said by phone on Friday. “That’s not an easy task. Some of the other states hold their finals in front of 25 or 30 people, so Kentucky adds a whole other level of difficulty to our competition.”
This is the sixth time Edwards has competed in the state competition, and the fourth time that he made it to the final four.
Farm Bureau’s Discussion Meet competition is not a debate, it’s a program aimed at developing the leaders of tomorrow by putting them in a position that simulates what Farm Bureau leaders actually do during meetings.
“Discussion Meet was created through the young farmers and ranchers program to simulate a actual Farm Bureau meeting,” Edwards explained. “Farm Bureau is a grass roots organization that get’s it’s policies from it’s members. Individual members present ideas based on things that they encounter. They present these ideas to Farm Bureau, and Farm Bureau is their voice on the state and national level.”
As in any business meeting, the idea is not to debate the topic, but to discuss it openly until a resolution can be reached. In groups of three or four, competitors discuss a range of topics as they proceed through the competition.
“Some questions are more contentious than others,” he explained. “Someone who is a row cropper might not be as concerned about a particular topic as someone who is a livestock producer.”
Through the six years that Edwards has competed in the state meet, he said that he has faced a lot of stiff competition. They’ve included ag teachers, college professors, a farm credit board member, a State Representative, lawyers, a Fish and Wildlife agent and even one assistant county attorney.
“Most of them are generally well polished and very well read,” Edwards said. “But some of my toughest competition have been people who rarely leave the farm but really know what they are doing.”
Edward credits Webster County and it’s people for helping him achieve everything that he has done. He says he began working with 4-H while in the third grade at Slaughters Elementary and has been active in speech programs since the fourth grade. He also credits the Extension Service, USDA and Webster County Soil Conservation for helping him through the years.
“I would love to win this for Webster County and Kentucky, but there haven’t been many people from Kentucky advance far in the national competition,” Edwards said. “Just getting here has been a real success for me.
The national competition began on Saturday and wrapped up with the finals on Monday.
Cameron Edwards lives with his wife in Versailles, KY and runs an environmental service and brokerage company in Louisville, KY. He spends weekends helping his father at Winghaven Lodge in Webster County, and was an assistant football coach for Webster County High School in the fall.

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