MORGAN, Minn. – Each year at Farmfest, youth leaders from across the state come to compete for the title of Minnesota Pork Ambassador. The winner will then spend the next year traveling the state and going to Washington D.C., to promote the pork industry.
“We had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., communicate with our legislators about the pork industry and let them know what is happening,” said Emelia Melson, the 2018 first runner-up Pork Ambassador. “Although I got to talk to a lot of farmers and a lot of people within the pork industry, that wasn’t the main people that we were targeting with our information.”
The goal of the Ambassador program is to find quality youth and have them be advocates for the pork industry and agriculture overall for a year.
The Ambassador, the first runner-up and the second runner-up all get to spend time at the Minnesota State Fair grounds in the Oink Booth, interacting with attendees, often from urban backgrounds. They are required to participate in Ag in the Classroom programs, speak with media professionals, and attend other pork industry promotional events at both the state and county levels.
In order to compete at the state level, an individual must be between the ages of 18-22 years old and have already won at a county level Pork Ambassador Competition.
Emelia was a Pork Ambassador for Martin County before she competed at the state level.
“For the state competition, we got to our hotel the day before Farmfest, and when you arrived you had an interview with the judges,” she said. “They asked you those behavioral questions, those normal interview questions: Can you tell me about yourself? Why do you want to be pork ambassador?”
The interview is just one part of the four-part competition.
Ahead of Farmfest, participants sent in an application along with a 600-1000 word essay.
“That could be about anything you want, but typically an issue in pork production,” she said. “For my essay, I did an essay called ‘Let’s Listen,’ and I actually won the essay competition last year.”
Her essay focused on members of the ag community taking the time to listen to those outside agriculture before responding to their questions and concerns.
If we don't listen to what the real question is, we're never going to give the correct answer,” she said. “If we stop, listen and answer correctly, we're going to be heard, rather than answering questions that aren't necessarily being asked.”
At Farmfest, the competitors will be asked to give a 5-7 minute presentation. This too can be on any topic within the pork industry of their choosing.
The last part of the competition is a mock media interview that will take place at Farmfest. An experienced radio personality will interview the candidates as if they were speaking live on the radio.
Emelia, along with Leyton Becker, the winner of the 2018 competition and State Pork Ambassador, will be back at Farmfest this year to assist with the 2019 competition.
There will be 11 youth leaders competing this year and the winners will be announced during Farmfest, on stage in the Wick building.
“I think the Pork Ambassador program is probably one of the best programs that exist,” said Emelia. “It has allowed me to move and talk to those people who aren't involved in agriculture at all. It makes you take a step back and think about what you're saying to make sure that other people understand it, so I think it really helped prepare me for future.”