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Passion for Speaking Earns Husker National Discussion Meet Spot
Nebraska Ag Connection - 04/05/2021

A Nebraska student's passion for dialogue and agricultural policy earned her the champion spot at the American Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet.

Abby Durheim, senior agricultural and environmental sciences communication major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Virginia native, claimed her victory at the American Farm Bureau Foundation's 2021 FUSION Reimagined Conference held virtually this year.

The contest is designed to simulate a committee meeting. Contestants are given a set of five questions that evaluate an agricultural issue prior to the discussion. They are able to reflect on the questions before they begin to discuss each one for about 20 minutes, ending with a closing statement. Durheim's final and winning question asked participants to consider solutions to enhance rural economies.

Durheim approached the issue with a two-pronged solution. She argued that for rural economies to thrive, agricultural profitability needed to be examined from a new perspective to ensure operations could financially support multiple families. In addition, she believed bridging the gap of opportunity in urban, suburban and rural communities would enhance rural economies. Durheim capitalized on the point that the combination of those two solutions creates the idea that when agriculture does good, rural economies do good and therefore rural economies have an opportunity.

As she wraps up senior year, this accomplishment is only one of many for Durheim. She feels humbled to have been a part of the competition and saw the value in having those conversations with others that they will all be able to bring back to local and collegiate Farm Bureau chapters. Additionally, Durheim learned the value of not leading every conversation, but instead listening and facilitating, too.

"It was absolutely humbling to have had such intense dialogue with such fierce competitors and to be able to provide such unique solutions to these issues and have someone tell me I was really good at it," said Durheim.

Looking to the future, Durheim dreams of being on Capitol Hill as an agricultural lobbyist for a general farming organization. The conversations and committee-like discussions had at the meet prepare her to further be able to connect farmers and ranchers to have those conversations at all levels. This opportunity gave her a chance to see agricultural issues happening on the ground and gave her the skills of effective communication.

Durheim lends her motivation to continue to strive for her dreams and goals to those around her in Nebraska, Virginia and past Young Farmers and Ranchers who continue to cheer her on. Agriculture is certainly not something she was born into, but it is something she continues to be a voice for.

"To be part of the ag community when you weren't born into it, like I wasn't born into production agriculture, is really, really special," she said.

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