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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

State Discussion Team & Individual Champions

Carlson and Fresno State win state Farm Bureau discussion titles

(December 4, 2017) – Fresno State seniors Abigail Carlson (Elk Grove) and Emma Briggs (Santa Rosa) finished first and second in the California Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet held at the state farm bureau’s annual meeting in Anaheim.

Their finishes helped Fresno State win the team title and beat teams from Cal Poly and Modesto Junior College in the competition that encourages active and positive group discussion.

Three Fresno State agricultural education students also advanced to the elite eight section and included senior Mikayla Kopp (Chowchilla), sophomore Trevor Autry (Nipomo) and freshman Samuel Looper (Squaw Valley).

Their teammates also included three agricultural education majors, seniors Cameron Ford (Bakersfield) and Jonathon Porter (Tulare) and sophomore Clayton Sheehan (Madera).

Carlson earned a $1,250 prize, and Briggs earned $750 as runner-up, and the team received $250.

The honors marked the sixth team and individual titles for the group under the direction of advisor Dr. Steven Rocca, Fresno State agricultural education professor. Other team titles came in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2008 and 2006.

The team also received preparation from student coaches Tim Truax, a junior agricultural education major, and Jacob Vazquez, an agricultural business graduate and an agricultural science graduate student. Vazquez was a top-four individual finalist at the event in 2016.

The one-day event consisted of a pre-determined topic for each of the four rounds. Competitors were divided into groups of four to five students that made 30-second opening and one-minute closing statements and participated in 25 minutes of shared discussion.

The top combined scorers from the opening two rounds advanced to the semifinal round that was composed of two, four-person groups. The two best individuals from each group advanced to the final round.

Discussion topics included helping first-generation farmers get started in agriculture; how agriculture can overcome public foreign trade skepticism to negotiate new trade agreements and open new markets to meet the growing international demand for U.S. farm products; improving public perception about family farming; increasing farmer and rancher buying power as input suppliers and providers consolidate; and helping farmers cope with increasing legal and regulatory obstacles so they can focus on farming and ranching.

In January 2019, Carlson will become the seventh Fresno State student to represent California at the American Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet national competition. Other past Fresno State individual state champions included Hunter Berry (2016), Levy Randolph (2014), Jake Carlson (2013), Tino Rossi (2011) and Jackie Mundt (2011). Rossi and Randolph won national titles in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

The American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program serves agriculturalists between the ages of 18 and 35 who are actively involved in production and affiliated professions and more info is at