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By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter
Although speaking in front of a crowd may seem daunting, FFA members competing in the Public Speaking Career Development Event (CDE) find it energizing and exciting. Students practice and prepare speeches to share in front of a panel of judges and the top 20 students in each category compete at the state level.
The Ohio FFA Association selects winners in four categories: Creed Speaking, Beginning Prepared Speaking, Advanced Prepared Speaking, and Extemporaneous Speaking. This year the entire speaking contest was hosted virtually and students competed via Zoom. The 2021 Ohio FFA Public Speaking CDE winners include:
- Creed Speaking: Lacie Bachman, Bloom Carroll
- Beginning Prepared Speaking: Vanessa Trotter, Peebles
- Advanced Prepared Speaking: Morgan Anderson, Amanda-Clearcreek
- Extemporaneous Speaking: Kaelyn Lortz, Big Walnut-DACC.
Lacie Bachman, a Bloom Carroll FFA member, has been practicing public speaking since she joined 4-H in the fourth grade. She grew up watching older cousins and other FFA members participate in public speaking and was elated when it was finally her turn to compete this year. Bachman recited the FFA Creed, the official creed of the National FFA Organization.
“After 10 years of waiting for my turn, I finally got to be a part of this organization that has been a part of all of my family’s lives,” Bachman said. “The Creed has brought me even closer to all of my family. It’s truly a blessing to be a part of an organization that has been a family tradition for as long as anyone in my family can remember.”
Bachman admits that preparing for the contest was a challenge. Through this experience, she learned that there is always room for improvement while practicing public speaking. For now, though, she is proud to be the Ohio FFA creed speaking winner.
“To me this still feels like a dream that I haven’t woken up from,” Bachman said. “I’m not sure the reality of being chosen to represent Bloom-Carroll and Ohio FFA at the National Creed Contest will ever sink in. But I do know I’m going to soak up every minute of it.”
While Bachman was memorizing the Creed, FFA members competing in the Beginning Prepared contest were researching, writing and crafting their own speech on a topic of their choice. Vanessa Trotter, a Peebles FFA member, prepared a speech on organic versus conventional farming and the role these two farming methods play in feeding a growing population.
“I sell produce at our local farmers market and one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people have misconceptions about farming and farming methods,” Trotter said. “Through this speech, I wanted share each farming method, so they could be more educated on the topic to form their own opinion.”
Trotter was more familiar with conventional farming before writing her speech and now has a better understanding of both farming practices.
“In doing research and talking to a local organic farmer, I got a bigger perspective on what organic farming entails,” Trotter said.
This was the second year Trotter competed in the public speaking contest. She recognizes that public speaking is an important skill and the more she practices the more comfortable she will feel.
“I’m so grateful for all of the support I got from my community,” Trotter said. “Mrs. Minton and everyone who listened to me speak when preparing for the competition — their advice helped me out tremendously.”
Students competing in the Extemporaneous contest don’t know their speech topic until they arrive at the contest. They pull a topic and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech to share in front of the judges. For Kaelyn Lotz, a Big Walnut-DACC FFA member, researching and preparing a speech under pressure sparked her interest.
“I knew I would enjoy the rush of drawing a random topic and preparing quickly, rather than memorizing a speech for a contest like Prepared,” Lotz said.
Lotz gained valuable skills while preparing and competing for the extemporaneous contest. She feels better equipped to communicate her thoughts about different topics.
“I had a great FFA advisor and volunteer coach who helped me perfect my speaking skills in time for the contest,” Lotz said. “I am so honored to have been able to participate in the contest and to have won is so exciting.”
The public speaking contest is just one of the many ways FFA members develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success. Morgan Anderson, an Amanda Clearcreek FFA member, Bachman and Lotz will compete at National FFA Convention in October. The beginning prepared contest is only recognized at the state level.
“Being able to communicate with people you are not familiar with, and especially on a topic you might not be an expert in are absolutely vital skills in the real world,” Lotz said. “I think my new skills in speaking and communication will help me present my ideas, communicate with peers and employers and be a more well-rounded adult in my future careers.”