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Dado and Leege get their point across in FB Discussion meet

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
WFBF President Jim Holte joins Meikah Dado, winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet.

These ladies prove they have what it takes to hold their own in a discussion meet on a variety of issues impacting agriculture.

Meikah Dado, a senior at UW-Madison is the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet contest while Rachel Leege of Green County won the YFA Discussion meet at the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 8.

Growing up on her family's dairy farm in northwest WIsconsin, Dada says her parents instilled in her a voice for agriculture at a young age.

"We were heavily involved in 4-H and especially FFA," says Dada, a past state FFA officer and National FFA officer candidate. "That's really where I grew my voice for agriculture and beyond."

While some may shudder at public speaking, Dada says being able to communicate about agriculture, especially in the ag community, fills her with joy.

"I'm majoring in Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communications, so it just brings it full circle," she said, adding that after graduate school she hopes to work for a government agency in a role dealing with international relations.

Dado is just one among 44,000 students attending At UW-Madison. Her graduating class in Dairy Science this year is just 19 students. By being active in the collegiate Farm Bureau among other organizations, this group of agriculture students are able to reach out to non-farm students through Harvest Handout - distributing samples of products such as cranberries and yogurt with facts about Wisconsin agricultural attached.

"It's those little conversations we're able to have with students as we're walking to class, where we're able to connect to agriculture and think on our feet," Dado said.

She recalls a conversation she had with an exchange student participating on mission trip.

"She talked about how vital powdered milk was in her diet back in China," says Dado, "which just shows the importance of trade, and consumers we have across the nation."

Contestants from the three Farm Bureau Chapters from UW-Madison, UW-River Falls and UW-Platteville competed in the competition.

WFBF President Jim Holte, from left, presents YFA Discussion Meet winner Rachel Leege with a chainsaw. They are joined by Rural Mutual Insurance Company CEO Dan Merk and GROWMARK board member Kevin Malchine, right.

YFA Discussion meet

Rachel Leege of Green County was selected winner of the 2019 Wisconsin Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Agriculturist Discussion Meet contest .

The Discussion Meet contest is a panel discussion in which Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are judged on their ability to express their ideas and opinions and reach a solution on current issues affecting agriculture. 

Leege is a science communications manager at the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies. Growing up, she spent time on her grandparent’s dairy farms.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in soil and crop science from UW-Platteville, and is a former Collegiate Discussion Meet contestant and served as historian. Other Farm Bureau activities include attending the FUSION Conference and assisting with YFA activities for Green County Farm Bureau.

Leege and her fiancé, John Schutte, are planning on transitioning to his family’s beef farm in northeast Iowa.

Leege and Dado will represent Wisconsin at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, in January.