WILBURTON — Silo students dominated their respective categories Thursday at the American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Southeast District Speech Contest held in Wilburton.
Three Silo students swept the Junior Science category—Brooklyn Toney in first, Lucas Rezner in second, and Starla Burns in third. Two students placed in the Senior AFR/OFU category—Preston Pratt, first, and Colton Milks, second. Two students placed in the Junior AFR/OFU category—Lilly Brewer, first, and Isabella Whitlock, second. Two students placed in the Novice AFR/OFU category—Kyleigh Eppler, first, and Kale Brister, third.
Additionally, Maddie Milks placed first in Senior Natural Resources; Kayla Poling placed first in Intermediate Agribusiness; Blake Jones placed first in Intermediate AFR/OFU; Sam Whitlock placed first in Intermediate Natural Resources; Lexi Nations placed second in Intermediate Science; and Hallie Rowland placed third in Senior Science.
This marks the 75th year of the contest. The event has gone through many changes over the years, but has always maintained its central agricultural theme. Varying by grade level, this year’s speech categories are AFR/OFU, Ag Advocacy and Policy, Agribusiness, Natural Resources, and Science. All students, grades fourth through 12th, are eligible to compete.
Nearly 500 students will compete in AFR District Speech Contests, resulting in more than 160 finalists advancing to the state contest held Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater.
“Public speaking is one of the most valuable skills young people can gain for their future careers,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “We are honored to host the 75th Annual AFR Speech Contest, which has a long-standing tradition of fostering professionalism and confidence in Oklahoma’s youth.”
Both district and state contests need local, regional and state leaders to judge speeches and provide constructive feedback. This feedback helps all participants improve their public speaking skills and will assist district winners as they work toward placing at the state level. Oklahoma Representative Jim Grego was a judge for this year’s AFR Southeast District Speech Contest.
“What I like most about the AFR speech contests is how it prepares students for leadership. Without these contests, they may not have a chance to do this,” Grego said. “No one will promote rural Oklahoma in the future more than these 4-H and FFA kids. They’re currently living the life I hope to preserve for future generations. Hopefully, they’ll carry on the tradition as they grow up.”
The AFR Annual Speech Contest is just one of many AFR/OFU Youth Program traditions. The organization also hosts a youth leadership summit, statewide scholarships, livestock judging and grading competitions, and many other development opportunities. For more information on how to participate in the AFR Annual Speech Contest or other youth activities, visit the AFR/OFU Cooperative website at www.afrcoop..
For more information about the 2019 AFR Speech Contest, contact AFR/OFU Youth Coordinator Vanessa Wiebe at (405) 218-5561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is actively supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.