Truax becomes fourth Fresno State ag national discussion champion
(February 20, 2018) -- Fresno State junior Tim Truax (Turlock) was honored as the national champion of the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet on Feb. 17 and 18 at its annual conference in Reno.
A Fresno State agricultural education major, Truax topped 58 entrants from across the nation that were judged on their ability to analyze industry issues and create solutions. The competition encouraged applicants to build basic discussion skills and pool their knowledge to reach a consensus and create a solution.
Truax earned a $2,250 scholarship as part of the honor.
Contestants included state champions or runners-up who prepared the past year researching five topics that ranged from boosting the declining population of farmers, improving public perception of family farm corporations, overcoming skepticism of domestic and international trade agreements, maintaining buying leverage with the consolidation of farm input suppliers, and managing increasing regulatory and legal requirements.
“It was a privilege to carry a conversation among the nation’s best and most talented students to discuss hot button ag topics,” Truax said. “The final topic was about overcoming public skepticism to negotiate new trade agreements, so my research led me to analyze past and present trade deals and examine them from both the public and government standpoints. The competition was a great way for college students to critically examine issues from conflicting perspectives, and being able to bridge the differences is something that benefits everybody in the industry.”
Saturday’s competition featured two, 25-minute sessions for groups of four to six contestants.
The top 16 scorers from Saturday advanced to four, four-person groups for Sunday’s semifinal, followed by an afternoon final between the four entrants who were the top scorers in each semifinal group. The other three finalists included Elli Isbell from Alabama, Lauren Heberling from Michigan and Annie Schwartz from Florida.
“Tim’s presentation and ability to facilitate the discussion was very impressive,” said Dr. Steven Rocca, Fresno State agricultural education faculty and discussion team advisor. “He showed great leadership skills and kept his cool in times that were stressful. He was a great representative of our program and university.”
Truax is a first-year Fresno State student who graduated from Modesto Junior College in the spring of 2017. He is also a member of the university’s livestock judging team and the newest cohort of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology honors program that was announced in December.
He qualified for the national final after winning the state discussion competition in 2017. Last spring, he was also selected as Modesto Junior College’s outstanding agriculture student and gave the college’s commencement address. He is a former FFA state officer and was active in 4-H as youth while raised on his family’s horse-boarding facility.
Truax is the fifth Jordan College student to represent California in the national competition under the guidance of Rocca who has served as the discussion team advisor since joining the animal sciences and agricultural education department faculty full-time in 2005. Recent alumnus Hunter Berry was one of four national finalists in 2017, while three other Fresno State students have won national titles - Levy Randolph (2015), Tino Rossi (2011) and Molly Fagundes (2004).
“Dr. Rocca was the initial person that drew me to Fresno State,” Truax said, “and has been a huge influence the past year in my preparation. Being a Central Valley kid, born and raised, I wouldn’t trade the chance to attend college anywhere else. I have gained much insight from very talented professors here who know the industry.”
After he receives his bachelor’s degree, Truax hopes to get a master’s degree, and then teach high school agricultural education.
American Farm Bureau press release (Feb. 27)