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Mitchell named finalist in Youth Discussion Meet

Celeste Mitchell of Cumberland County was a finalist in the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Youth Discussion Meet, held virtually May 20.

The Youth Discussion Meet competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting in which discussion and active participation are expected from each contestant. Competitors are judged on their discussion skills, understanding of important agricultural issues and ability to build consensus. The contest was hosted in conjunction with 4-H and FFA.

This year’s competition explored topics relevant to Virginia’s agricultural community. In the final round of discussion, youth were asked how the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges to the food supply chain, how to resolve weaknesses in the system and how to strengthen the industry for the future.

Competitors discussed local food sourcing, support for beginning farmers, reduction of food waste and how to develop opportunities for public education. They also shared details of their own agricultural experiences.

Lauren Rhodes of Augusta County, a senior at Fort Defiance High School who is dual enrolled at Blue Ridge Community College, earned first place. First runner-up was Kate Shifflett of Page County, a member of the Luray High School FFA chapter and a dual-enrollment student at Lord Fairfax Community College. Other finalists in addition to Mitchell were Zachary Lambert, Prince William County; Jackson Lohr, Rockingham County and Caitlin Mawby, Chesterfield County.

The contest was sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. Rhodes earned a $1,000 cash scholarship, Shifflett earned a $500 cash scholarship, and finalists each received $250.