The California Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Discussion Meet first place honors were awarded to Tino Rossi, a Fresno State freshman who won the collegiate contest, and Megan Jacobsen, a 2008 Fresno State graduate competing in the open contest.

Rossi, an agricultural business major, and Jacobsen, an agriculture communications alumna, both competed for the first time, encouraged by friends and peers, and will now represent California in the national competition. Rossi will compete on Feb. 18 in Grand Rapids, Mich., next February and Jacobsen on Jan. 8 in Honolulu.

The Discussion Meet, designed to promote conversations among young agriculturists, included five rounds in which competitors discussed and offered solutions to issues facing California farmers.

Jacobsen described the contest as a great opportunity for students to discuss agriculture issues even among people with differing opinions.

“My experience on the farm and at Fresno State is what has prepared me to have this discussion,” said Jacobsen, who is the director of membership for the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.

Additional awards were won by Audra Roland, an agricultural business major who placed fourth, and Jodi Raley, an agriculture communications major, who qualified for the semifinal round.

Others on the Fresno State team are ag business majors Heather Condra, Ben Granholm and German Marquez; ag communication major Monique Bienvenue; agriculture education majors Annie Anderson, Stephanie Nash and Beatriz Rodriguez; and animal science major Jake Carlson.

Students met every Monday during November for up to two hours to perfect discussion techniques and gather information and facts from guest speakers Michelle Ganci, an animal science professor, and Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. They traveled to Sparks, Nev. for the competition Dec. 4.

“This experience gives students an opportunity to further develop their leadership and communication skills,” said Dr. Steve Rocca, an assistant professor of ag education and adviser for the discussion team. “These types of activities enable students to apply what they are learning in our agricultural classes to the real world.”

In preparation for the national contest, Jacobsen has begun training with California Farm Bureau Federation’s Governmental Affairs Office to expand her knowledge of agriculture on a national level.

Jacobsen earned $4,000 and Rossi was awarded $500 from Farm Bureau sponsors for their victories.

Fresno State won the team championship in 2006 and 2008, while Jackie Mundt, a 2009 ag communications graduate, was awarded first place in the 2008 individual competition.

For more information, contact Dr. Rocca at 559.278.5088 or

(Copy by University Communications news intern Nicole Maul.)

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