Representing Southern Utah University on a state level is a big deal, but representing the entire state of Utah in a national competition speaks volumes about a person’s talent and character. Tiffani Phillips, a senior interdisciplinary studies/agriculture science and industry major at SUU, competed at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) National Collegiate Discussion Meet this semester and placed in the final four.
The YF&R program provides leadership experience to men and women between the ages of 18-35. These individuals participate in various competitions and discussions, creating a more effective Farm Bureau and expanding agricultural opportunities in the country.
One of the competitive events in the YF&R program, the Discussion Meet is designed like a committee meeting. Analysis and active participation are expected from each collegiate participant, who are judged on their ability to exchange ideas and information on agricultural topics and find relating solutions.
“Meeting other members of the Farm Bureau from across the nation was an irreplaceable experience,” said Phillips. “I am beyond grateful for the support I’ve received from the Farm Bureau and from the SUU agricultural department.”
This Shingle Springs, California native prepared by studying topics like foreign-born labor forces, natural resource management, agricultural tax policy and accurate marketing of food companies. After being selected to represent SUU, Phillips placed in the Elite 8 at the state competition, positioning herself to be one of two to compete and represent Utah at the national meet held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“Tiffani competed not simply to participate but to come out on top, and she accomplished that,” said Dean Winward, SUU associate professor of agriculture. “She studied, practiced, prepared and drew on an inner strength, all things that helped her then and will continue to help in her future.”
As a final four winner, Phillips received $1,000 scholarship courtesy of John Deere and a $250 scholarship from the American Farm Bureau.
Professors in the agriculture program are sad to see Phillips graduating this spring. She’s been a valuable asset to their team. Phillips has served as a teacher’s assistant for several classes and is the current Agriculture Club historian.
“Tiffani has been a terrific student,” said Lee Wood, department chair and professor of agriculture. “She has always been hardworking and dependable. As to her future, I am confident she will be successful.”
Phillips plans to continue competing in the discussions at the non-collegiate level and stay involved with the Farm Bureau. She looks forward to using her skills and knowledge as a high school agriculture teacher after she graduates.