Just over 400 high school students and chaperons had a great day Thursday, April 18 at the State Capitol during the 25th annual Missouri Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day.
Students from around the state converged at the Farm Bureau headquarters to learn about issues being discussed at the Capitol prior to boarding buses for face-to-face visits. Youth Leadership Day is sponsored by the Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) Promotion and Education Program.
MOFB President Blake Hurst welcomed the students and they were given some insights on legislation important to Farm Bureau by MOFB Director of State Legislative Programs BJ Tanksley. It was a day when the third and final reading of bills took place on the House floor. Many students heard the readings from the House side galleries and some were introduced to the assembly by legislators. Other students visited with their representatives and senators in their offices.
They returned to the MOFB Center for lunch and later heard from featured speaker State Representative Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe). Black worked as an agriculture educator for 32 years before retiring and winning his first two-year term to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2016.
He told students to be considerate of the other side’s opinions and to listen first.
"The old adage that says you have two ears and one mouth, so use them in that proportion," he said. "Figure out two or three things you want to say, say them, then be quiet."
Black mentioned that emotion can overrun our thought process, agreeing that it is important to find something you are passionate about.
"But, don’t let passion blind your understanding of the other side (of others’ opinions)," he said.
He also cautioned students about social media posts that could come back to haunt them in later years.
"Your run for an elected office starts now, so be mindful of how you present yourself."
Finally, students heard from MOFB’s 2019 Ambassadors Marlena Long of Paris and Wyatt Wilson of Ava. Both talked about competing in the ambassador contest and highlights of joining MOFB members for the Washington, D.C., trip in March.