Marquee Ricks, who farms near Rexburg, Idaho, won the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Discussion Meet last week during the organization’s national convention.
She topped three other finalists in the meet, part of the convention held virtually Jan. 10-13. The national event featured 29 state winners who emerged from competitions around the U.S. in the past year.
The meet aims to help young farmers and ranchers hone public-speaking and problem-solving skills. It’s meant to simulate a committee meeting. Participants field challenges in the form of questions, directing discussions toward each other to arrive at a solution.
Ricks, who represented the Idaho Farm Bureau and won a new Ford truck, told Capital Press about 75% of the information she presented was based on earlier conversations with farmers, agricultural lobbyists, state Department of Agriculture officials and others.
“No one person can solve these,” she said. “It takes a network.”
Ricks said all four rounds produced potential action points that could be applied in Idaho on topics such as international trade, “big data” on the farm and rural broadband access, which was discussed in the Jan. 13 final round.
“You could pick one or two of these and work with your local Farm Bureau” chapter, she said.
Ricks, 29, grew up in Alaska. She had no agricultural background when she got into farming around nine years ago.
“If you want to be involved and are passionate about ag, there is a place for you,” she said.
Ricks and her husband, Brett, grow wheat, barley and mustard on about 1,200 acres. They have three young children, the farm’s fourth generation.
They farm with Brett’s father, Brent. Recently, they’ve been working to integrate more regenerative practices such as no-till farming and using cover crops.
Marquee Ricks said she particularly enjoys “watching my husband be truly passionate about feeding America.” Farming requires passion and hard work, and is “very much a family lifestyle.”
Her farm-related tasks range from calling people and completing paperwork to running a combine and helping with shop tasks. She works part-time as a family nurse practitioner at a Rexburg clinic.
IFBF President Bryan Searle said in a release that Ricks represented the state well, and her win “brings an energy and excitement to Idaho Farm Bureau that will have lasting effects on our organization.”
The meet is part of the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program, open to producers ages 18 to 35. Participants learn skills that equip them to lead in their home communities, said Brody Miller, a Farm Bureau regional manager who oversees YF&R.
“Our communities need our young farmers and ranchers to show up and be involved,” he said.