GFB News Magazine

ABAC, Colquitt County teams win Advocacy in Action Contest

by Jay Stone

Posted on November 17, 2023 4:19 PM

Article & photos by Jay Stone

Teams from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and Colquitt County High School won the 3rd Annual Advocacy in Action Contest, sponsored and coordinated by Georgia Farm Bureau.

The final rounds of the contest were held Oct. 18 at the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie. 

The Colquitt County team of Ellery McBryde, Carolyne Turner and Anna Grace Hunter, coached on site by Georgia Farm Bureau Agricultural Programs Manager Raynor Churchwell, won the high school division. ABAC’s No. 2 team of Colton Peacock, Jenna Williams and Whitnie Yoder, coached on site by Georgia Chamber of Commerce Director of Government Affairs Katie Duvall, won the collegiate division. Colquitt County Farm Bureau Office Manager Greta Collins helped both teams prepare for the contest.

“As a former elected official, I appreciate these young people pursuing this skill,” said GFB President Tom McCall, who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 26 years and chaired the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee from 2005 through 2020. “Talking with public officials is at the core of Georgia Farm Bureau’s mission, and the Advocacy in Action contest is one way we can help future agricultural leaders experience how these discussions often happen.”

Teams of three or four students made policy pitches to each of three judges concerning how to help young and beginning farmers overcome the risks associated with taking over a family farm or starting a new farm. 

A total of 23 teams submitted video entries for the contest. The top three in each division competed at Sunbelt, where they gave presentations to judges Brian Hardin with the Alabama Farmers Federation, Reaganne Hart from the office of Gov. Brian Kemp, and Dale Sandlin, Georgia Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president. 

The pitches were limited to three minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period of up to five minutes.

The competition is designed to simulate lobbyist conversations with elected officials in a variety of environments. For example, discussions with Sandlin took place at Expo’s Beef Pavilion with constant noise and Expo visitors wandering nearby.

“The participants in the Advocacy in Action Contest did a great job in the short amount of time to advocate for their position,” Sandlin said. “When we’re lobbying on behalf of our members, we often may only get one chance of a couple of minutes to make a case for our position and it’s rarely in a quiet environment. Having them compete in this way is very true to life and will help train the next generation of advocates for agriculture.”

The winning teams received cash prizes and invitations to participate in the 2024 Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol in Atlanta in February.

The ABAC 2 team won the College Division of the Advocacy in Action Contest. Members are, from left, Colton Peacock, Jenna Williams & Whitnie Yoder. 

Members of the Colquitt County High School team that won the Advocacy in Action Contest’s High School Division are, from left, Ellery McBryde, Carolyne Turner & Anna Grace Hunter.