I was recently interviewed by an agriculture youth organization about public speaking skills and public speaking contests. Here are my answers!
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself along with your background in agriculture.
I grew up on a Simmental farm in Central Illinois showing cattle through 4-H, FFA, and the American Junior Simmental Association (“AJSA”). I judged livestock collegiately at Lake Land College and Texas A & M University. I received an A.S. in Agriculture from Lake Land College, a B.S. in Animal Science from Texas A & M University and a M.S. in Ruminant Nutrition from the University of Illinois. I then went on to law school and have my own food and agriculture law practices with offices in Illinois and New York.
2) What is the biggest piece of advice you have for [the organization’s] members participating in the Public Speaking contest?
Smile and be confident! Believe it or not, your judges WANT you to succeed! They are not waiting for you to mess up. Just be yourself and relax! If you mess up, then laugh it off to yourself and keep going. There is no such thing as the “perfect speech.”
3) Why is it important to participate in the Public Speaking contest?
Public speaking is important for nearly every type of profession. I use the public speaking skillset in my career constantly both inside and outside the courtroom. Honing in on public speaking skills is an invaluable skillset no matter the direction that life takes you.
4) How [do agriculture youth organizations] prepare its members for future careers?
I was very lucky to have had so many wonderful educational moments through various agriculture organizations . I remember being so scared to give my first set of oral reasons at the American Junior Simmental Association (“AJSA”) National Classic in Springfield, Illinois – I was in the hotel room crying to my father the day before because I kept messing up (I’m such a perfectionist!). But ya know what? I got through the contest and that experience gave me the confidence in future livestock judging contests. I won a national championship in oral reasons at the National Western Stock Show while I was at Lake Land and I owe it to agriculture youth organizations who helped push me at a young age. Furthermore, agriculture youth organizations build an invaluable skillsets and knowledge base for our future generation leading the agriculture industry.