Manatee County students in grades six through 12 were eligible to compete in the annual Farm City Week Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District speech contest. Designed to develop leadership through participation in public speaking activities and to stimulate interest in conserving our natural resources, the topic this year was “Healthy Forests=Healthy Communities”. Three students submitted written transcripts of their speech and provided 5-7 minute pre-recorded speeches.
Abigail Lillibridge, a Lakewood Ranch High School student, won the competition which qualifies her to compete in an area contest to be held in the spring. Lillibridge was awarded a check for $150 by the District for her first place finish.
Placing second and awarded $100 was Megan Hosker, a Palmetto High School student. Taliyah Moore, a Lincoln Memorial Academy Middle School student, placed third and received $75. Moore also placed first in the middle school division and also qualified to compete in the area contest in the spring.
As a participating teacher, Lincoln Memorial Academy Middle School FFA teacher Caitlyn Corbran won the random drawing for a $50 gift certificate to purchase educational supplies.
In most years the first place students are invited to attend the Farm City Week Hall of Fame luncheon to be recognized for their accomplishments. This year the Kiwanis Agriculturalist of the Year and the Hall of Fame event were held jointly and the speech contestants were recognized during the program. The recorded program can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmprw6crrKI
Judges were Nelly Nelson, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Service Manatee County; Michael Keegan, Forest Area Supervisor with Florida Forest Service; and Jack Creighton, USDA NRCS District Conservationist, retired.
To rewind a bit to last year, the 2019-2020 state speech contest was delayed due to COVID-19. Our 2019 first place local contestant Kea Kamiya participated in the state contest which was hosted by the Association of Florida Conservation District at their November annual meeting via pre-recorded speeches. Kamiya placed 2nd in the state contest and was awarded a $250 gift card.