For 17 young people, Minnesota Farmfest 2016 has the potential for a life-changing event, with the Minnesota Pork Ambassador competition.
This is the eighth year the pork ambassador selection process has occurred at Farmfest, said Theresa Twohey, Minnesota Pork Board communications director.
“It’s been very successful to host it at Farmfest,” Twohey said. Previously, the event was hosted during Pork Congress in January, but many of the young people had school and other commitments. “It’s been valuable for us to host it at Farmfest because a lot of the attendees are not from the pork industry, and it provides a valuable networking opportunity for our ambassador candidates.”
Located at 614 (just northeast of the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center), the large Minnesota Pork Board tent hosts ambassador-hopefuls’ presentations and group activities.
The public is cordially invited to watch all of the goings-on.
Any youth that completes the Ambassador requirements is eligible to compete in the Minnesota Pork Ambassador competition. They can also earn a $500 scholarship from the Minnesota Pork Board for completing a detailed list of tasks. These tasks are all outlined in the Minnesota Pork Industry Ambassador handbook.
The participants must be between the ages of 18 and 22 as of Aug. 1, 2016, and have a strong interest in the future of the pork industry and agriculture. Many serve as county ambassadors or as part of the state/regional ambassador team if they don’t have a county association.
The top state ambassadors receive additional scholarships – Minnesota Pork Ambassador, $1,500, First Runner-up, $750, and Second Runner-up, $500. Cash awards are also given for best essay and congeniality.
All of the applicants – not just the top vote getters – are given many opportunities to share the story of pork and pork production throughout the year at the Minnesota State Fair, Pork Congress and local fairs and events.
This year’s participants will meet in New Ulm a day ahead of the Farmfest kickoff for individual interviews with the judges. There is also a judged activity where they “role-play” scenarios that would involve talking with the general public. Judges determine how well they interact and communicate.
Then, Tuesday, Aug. 2 is called “Presentation Day.” Each of the participants gives a pork industry-related presentation between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Minnesota Pork Board tent stage.
“Some talk about gestation stalls, some talk about consumer perceptions, some talk about food labels. It’s up to the ambassador to develop a presentation surrounding the pork industry and it is very broad, but that gets a lot of different perspectives,” said Twohey. “It shows what the ambassadors are passionate about.”
The awards program takes place on the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center stage on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 11:55 a.m., with Lynn Ketelsen of the Linder Farm Network announcing the winners.
The 2016 winners will take over the ambassador responsibilities from the 2015 winners that include Minnesota Pork Ambassador Maddie Schafer, First Runner-Up Adam Stevermer, and Second Runner-Up Andrea White.
“Throughout the year, the ambassadors do various leadership activities,” Twohey said. “We’re excited to see more and more people participate.”
The announcement of last year’s Minnesota Pork Ambassadors was made by Orion Samuelson and Lynn Ketelsen. The radio personalities expect to be back again to announce the new Minnesota Pork Ambassadors in 2016.
Minnesota Pork Ambassador 2015/16 Maddie Schafer, First Runner-Up Adam Stevermer, and Second Runner-Up Andrea White.