Fresno State senior Hunter Berry (San Jacinto) finished as one of four finalists in the American Farm Bureau Federation and Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet on Feb. 11 and 12 at the annual conference in Pittsburgh.
A Fresno State agricultural business student, Berry earned a $1,250 scholarship as part of the honor.
The two-day event featured over 50 entrants from across the nation who were judged on their ability to analyze industry issues and create solutions. The competition encouraged applicants to build basic discussion skills and pool their knowledge to reach a consensus and solve problems.
Contestants were judged on their responses to topics ranging from national immigration policy; how ranchers and farmers can steer natural resource management policy; restructuring agriculture tax policy to be more balanced and beneficial; and how Farm Bureau can improve consumer education and confidence in food labeling, quality and safety.
Senior Ryan O’Reilly from Colorado State University won the event.
Berry qualified for the event after he won the California Farm Bureau state discussion competition in March 2016 in San Luis Obispo.
“It was a rewarding experience,” Berry said. “The national competition is much different than the state event since we spent the past year researching how ag issues can affect the country differently. For instance, farm labor isn’t an issue in California but it is in other areas that have worker shortages. In California we have a water quantity problem, but other states have a water quality problem instead. It was interesting to see all the other people that care about the ag industry in unique ways and the support they get from the national farm bureau.”
Berry is a past FFA state sentinel officer who served in 2013-14. After he graduates this spring, he will start the Craig School of Business graduate program. He also works as an intern at Central Valley Community Bank and is training to be an analyst.
Working with Fresno state animal sciences and agricultural education professor Dr. Steven Rocca, Berry is the sixth Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology student to represent California in the national competition. The prior Fresno State competitor, Levy Randolph, won the national event in February 2015.