As an ag education teacher, Kaitlyn Marchant says her contribution to agriculture is creating advocates for farming.
“Not every kid who sits in my class will be directly involved in agriculture, but they will all be consumers,” Marchant said. “If we can create educated consumers who can advocate for farmers, that’s important.”
Marchant is a product of Georgia’s FFA program, so she understands the impact it can have on students. She grew up helping out on her grandparents’ beef farm in Jeff Davis County. She showed cattle from sixth through 12th grade. Throughout high school, her FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience project was beef cattle production. She served as the Georgia FFA South Region vice president for 2007-2008.
“I knew pretty early on I wanted to be an ag teacher. I came through a middle school ag program, which was pretty rare at the time,” Marchant said. “After watching the process of my grandparents get out of farming and having nobody to take over the farm, teaching agriculture and helping kids find their place seemed like a good fit.”
After graduating from UGA, Marchant has taught ag at Morgan County High School since the fall of 2012. Her teaching partner happens to be Rachel Kinsaul. As ag teachers, Marchant and Kinsaul are ex officio members of the Morgan County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. The two have worked together to build the county’s YF&R program.
She says her competitive nature and interest in ag issues motivated her to compete in the discussion meet.
“I enjoy researching the topics and giving some thought to them and discussing them,” Marchant said. “I feel the discussion meet topics are always relevant to what’s happening in agriculture in a given year.”
Different contestants have different approaches to competing in the event, Marchant has observed.
“Some people come in with lots of facts and figures. To me, the whole point of the discussion meet is to build off of each other’s ideas,” Marchant reflected. “You need to be open to what other people are saying. I try not to get too caught up in ‘This is what I want to talk about.’ It’s more building a knowledge base of the topics we will be discussing.”
To build her knowledge base, Marchant reads a lot and talks to people she knows in agriculture who have experience with the topics.
“If you can speak knowledgeably about the discussion meet topics you will be better prepared to advocate for agriculture and the problems farmers are facing,” Marchant says.
When Marchant faces competitors from across the country at the American Farm Bureau convention in January, she’ll be answering the same questions Georgia’s contestants addressed in July. You can read the discussion meet topics at www.gfb.ag/19DMtopics .
Marchant and her husband, Kaleb, live in Winterville, where he manages the beef and sheep unit of the UGA Double Bridges Farm. They welcomed their first child, son Bodie, in September.