Jim Fraley serves as the Livestock Program Director for the Illinois Farm Bureau. He has been with the Farm Bureau for 30 years, raised a farmer, animal care giver and judges FFA public speaking contests.
What is your best advice for Rodeo Queens to be positive ambassadors of Agriculture with their actions, speech, and appearance?
I recommend that no matter what, you are always representing agriculture and remember that even when you aren’t wearing your crown, you are still a representative of agriculture. So always be on your best behavior and keep in mind that you are not only representing you and your family, but also all of the farmers and ranchers across the country.
Consumers today really want to know about agriculture. They want to know where their food comes from whose growing it, raising it, and who is caring for the animals. The consumers want to know more, so as an agriculture representative make sure you can provide the answers to their questions.
Be knowledgeable on a large range of subjects. Make sure to be truthful and honest because the consumers trust you as a representative of the farmers and producers.
Why is it important for young agriculture ambassadors do to be educated on current issues in agriculture?
Everybody has to eat. There are so few of us ( the farmers and producers) represented in the consumer population. Agriculture producers are fewer than 2% of the population, so today very few people know farming or have a farmer in the family.
So these consumers will look to you as the agriculture ambassador to help answer their questions. This could even be dispelling the myths that they have heard over the years.
Can you give examples of current issues in Agriculture that representatives should be aware of?
Animal care is paramount. Make sure your animals are properly cared for, fed, watered, sheltered and are receiving good care in general.
The other issues seem to focus on antibiotic use, hormones, GMO’s- I think these examples are very topical. All of these topics are great opportunities for rodeo queens especially to become very well versed on, so they that can share the facts about these very important issues.
How do you think agriculture relates to the modern day rodeo?
Any time there is a livestock exhibition, this might be the only time a year that a consumer will have contact with a day to day farmer or rancher. Always put your best foot forward, this is your opportunity to put a great face on agriculture. As a rodeo queen pass along the qualities of providing care for your animal, being responsible for your animal, making sure it’s fed and exercised everyday.
What advice would you give to a young lady who is thinking about or planning to try out for a rodeo queen title?
I always like to see people who are confident in their speech, people who state real facts and don’t cloud the factual information. If you don’t know the answer just be honest. Keep in mind that if a judge asks you a question, they know the answer and they will know if you are right.
In the future you will be called upon to give speeches and demonstrations and with that extemporaneous public speaking will help with this! The ability to speak in front of people publicly is a skill that will carry you the first of your life.