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Youth News

Oklahoma FFA Speech Contestant Hopes to Help Public Become More 'Ag Literate'

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 15:36:33 CDT

Oklahoma FFA Speech Contestant Hopes to Help Public Become More 'Ag Literate'
Tyler Schnaithman, is one of the current Oklahoma officers of the FFA Association. He will be representing Oklahoma at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, at the end of October. He recently spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the convention and his plans for the future. He will appear on this weekend's "In the Field" segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m. Saturday. (You can also listen to their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)

Schnaithman has been an outstanding public speaker and has won several FFA speech titles. In competing at the national convention, he made the choice to enter the prepared speaking category as opposed to extemporaneous. He also elected to deliver his speech in the area of plant science as opposed to foreign trade. Schnaithman said the decision to speak about the current GMO debate wasn't that hard to make.

"Coming from a farming background, it discusses organic versus conventional farming and the GM labeling issues. I just feel like with question I can relate a little bit easier coming from a farming background rather than my other speech which was foreign trade. I felt like this was a good issue to talk about and something that I could definitely relate to."

He said the emotions surrounding the issue of genetically modified crops are getting in the way of facts.

"Right now farmers are taking a lot of heat and I feel like a lot of these anti-GM organizations are using it as a marketing tool. They're saying their food is more nutritional. They say it's safer. And that's where I kind of feel like, as a young person involved in agriculture, we have to draw the line and let the public know we've always prided ourselves on providing the safest, most reliable, most affordable food supply known to mankind. That's where I kind of have a problem with some of these anti-GM groups and organic groups who are kind of bashing what we do as production agriculturists."

He said spreading the truth about the benefits of using genetically-modified crops is big job.

"We need to make people a little more 'ag' literate. A lot of people don't understand where their food comes from and why we do what we do as farmers. In addition to that, we need to talk about the improvements we're making in farming- We're truly being more sustainable in trying to use fewer inputs to produce more off of each acre of land."

Schnaithman is currently attending Oklahoma State University pursuing a degree in agricultural business. He says FFA was a priority in high school and he credits the experience with making lifelong friends and connections that will be useful as he continues his agricultural career by returning to his family's farm near Garber when he graduates.

Our exclusive coverage of the 2013 National FFA Convention in Louisville is a service of the Oklahoma FFA Association and the Oklahoma FFA Alumni Association. Click here for more information about this youth organization. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.


Ron Hays talks with Tyler Schnaithman about the upcoming FFA Convention.
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