The beef check-off program stirred the emotions of many in the livestock industry. It also stirred Madisonville High School's Future Farmers of America to debate the topic as part of their yearly competition.
"Madison County, being such a big farm and ranch county in the state of Texas, we knew we would be affected greatly by the decision, so that's why we chose that topic," said Lindsey Gilmore, one of the team members.
"As a part of our presentation, we tried to come up with a creative way of presenting the arguments in favor of and against the beef check-off program," said Jarrod Reese.
Quite the meaty issue for seven teens to tackle, but in the vein of a courtroom debate, Madisonville's FFA sliced through the competition at the district, area and state levels, carving through dozens of schools. For four of the seven now at Texas A&M, it also consumed a lot of their time.
"We had just left for college, and we had to go back every Sunday," said Wes Bailey. "Every now and then, we'd go back on Saturday and Sunday. It wasn't too bad. The gas prices got really high. We had to start carpooling a lot."
"Our sophomore year, we made it to state, and we got sixth," said Gilmore. "We thought that was the best we could ever do. And this year, when we got first at state, we were really excited."
"Getting to nationals and then winning first place at nationals was almost like a dream state that we were looking up to," Reese said.
But last week in Louisville, Kentucky, the Agricultural Issues team served up a winning presentation, bringing first place back to their small town.
"They're all just really proud of us and what we've done," said Victoria Jackson. "They put it in the paper. We have a little radio station there and it's all over the radio. And if I go back there, there will be tons of people coming up to me telling me how proud they are of me."
For a town their size, a win like theirs is rare, but deserved for a job well done.
Christina Taylor, Randi Standley and Landon Reed are the other three members of that winning team.
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