Missouri Ruralist Essay Contest House

Agriculture touches many different aspects of our everyday lives. Still, many individuals do not understand the industry. This year the Larry Harper Young Writers Contest, sponsored by Missouri Ruralist, asks Missouri FFA members to consider how best to bridge that disconnect.

The 600-word essay, entitled "Agriculture: Bridging the Gap," may cover any aspect of the agriculture industry, such as explaining science to savvy shoppers, economic impact to environmental regulators, or limiting laws to legislative liaisons. FFA members can offer their views on any areas in which they feel the agriculture industry needs to do a better job disseminating its message.

The essay should provide an FFA member's own reasoning, along with ideas as to how Missouri farmers, agribusiness and FFA members can be involved in bridging the communication gap.

The essay contest is named after the late Larry Harper, who was a strong FFA supporter. He often challenged young people to discuss important ag issues of the day. Harper served as editor of Missouri Ruralist from 1976 to 1999.

Here are few requirements of this year's Larry Harper Young Writers Contest:

•The essay should be the student's original work.
•The essay should have more than one source of information. Personal interviews with experts are encouraged.
•The essay should be a Word document, 12-point Times New Roman, typed and double-spaced.
•The essay should have a cover page that includes the entrant's name, title, school name and date.
•The essay should have a maximum of 600 words.

The top three winners will appear on stage at the Missouri FFA Convention in April. The winning essay will be read by the entrant during the convention. Winners will receive $250 for first place, $150 for second place and $75 for third.

First-place winners from previous years are not eligible for the essay contest.

Email entries to [email protected], or send a hard copy to Missouri Ruralist, 21680 Smith Creek Road, Marthasville, MO 63357.

All entries must be postmarked by March 18.

TAGS: Farm Life

By Laura Bardot

I would not be where I am today if it were not for hard work, determination and networking.

It all started during my time as an FFA and 4-H member. My freshman year of high school was full of awkwardness and trying to find my niche in clubs. It just seemed right for me to become involved in the FFA program. I found myself preparing for the creed speaking. The very first time I competed, I placed second to last. That experience propelled me forward to be a better public speaker and helped me step outside my comfort zone.

Over the next three years, I competed in several competitions and met countless people. I served in three different chapter officer positions, as well as Area XIV secretary. I interviewed for the state officer position, but did not receive the honor to serve my area.

Despite the setback, I wanted to serve others. So, I looked into leadership roles in other organizations. I was an active 4-H member for nine years and served in all the offices at the club level. That’s when I decided to run for East Central regional representative on the Missouri State 4-H Council. With some faith and a little bit of good luck, I was elected to serve on the State 4-H Council my senior year of high school.

Carrying on in college
During my time as an FFA and 4-H member, I learned how to interact professionally, write speeches, work on a team and much more. The skills I learned from these organizations carried over into my college career. From career fairs, leadership conferences, even group projects, I was able to take what I learned in FFA and 4-H to college.

My freshman year at the University of Missouri was typical — co-ed residence hall, 8 a.m. classes five days a week, dining hall food and getting lost on campus more than once. But thankfully, I lived on the floor of the residence hall where College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources students lived, many of whom I knew from FFA and 4-H activities.

Networking matters
Through connections and networking, I was able to land my first internship through Missouri 4-H. I was attending the 2015 Missouri 4-H Legislative Academy. With the academy, participants shadow their hometown representative or senator. I happened to leave my resume and business card on the representative’s desk; the next day, I received an email asking me to return and intern for the representative.

Another internship I gained through networking was with the Animal Agriculture Alliance. I was attending the annual Leaders Conference of Agriculture Future of America. Farm Credit sponsored me to attend the conference. As I was talking with one of the women from Farm Credit, she asked me if I was interested in interning in Washington, D.C. I initially told her no, because I was only a sophomore. She asked me to send her my resume and said she was going to forward it to her connections. A few weeks later, I received an email requesting an interview for a communications internship with the Animal Agriculture Alliance. One thing led to another, and I spent the summer between my sophomore and junior year in our nation’s capital.

For any students out there — high school or college — I urge them to get involved and step outside their comfort zone and meet new people. And don’t be afraid to say yes to new opportunities.

Bardot is a University of Missouri science and agricultural journalism student. Email her at[email protected]

TAGS: Farm Life

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