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Published November 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

Widbooms win state Excellence in Agriculture award

Couple will compete for national honor
WORTHINGTON — Matt and Teresa Widboom of rural Worthington will represent Minnesota in the Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture contest at the National Farm Bureau Association’s annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January.

By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Matt and Teresa Widboom of rural Worthington will represent Minnesota in the Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture contest at the National Farm Bureau Association’s annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January.

The Widbooms earned the trip after being named state winners during the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting a week ago in Minneapolis.

The Excellence in Agriculture is one of three contests sponsored by the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) program, and is open to individuals ages 35 and younger. The award is based on an application and presentation the Widbooms completed, detailing their combination of community leadership and off-farm work experience.

The other two award categories including Agriculture Achievement, which is open to individuals involved primarily in production agriculture; and Discussion Meet, which has contestants discussing current issues in agriculture.

As state winners in the Excellence in Agriculture category, the Widbooms will compete for the national title and a 2009 Dodge pick-up. The top six individuals or couples in the category will receive a $6,000 savings bond and a chain saw, said Matt Widboom.

As in the state contest, the national contest winners are chosen from written applications and public presentations. The Widbooms created a Power Point presentation highlighting their involvement in community events, from the United Way, of which Matt is a board member, to their leadership in Farm Bureau-sponsored events such as Breakfast on the Farm.

“The whole process focused on community leadership and Farm Bureau leadership,” said Matt. Following the presentation, the Widbooms were asked to discuss three key issues regarding the future of agriculture and then respond to questions from both judges and the audience.

Though the Widbooms had little time to devote to issues discussion during the 30-minute presentation, they briefly addressed the food and fuel challenge, shrinking political representation in rural areas and the evolution of the family farm.

For the past year, the Widboom family has worked solely in production agriculture, with Matt working alongside his parents in a crop and beef farming operation. Prior to that, he worked as farm director for Three Eagles Communication in Worthington.

Both Matt and Teresa are involved in numerous community organizations, as well as their church. Teresa recently became involved in one of the local Women’s Philanthropic Education Organizations (PEO) and Dollars for Scholars, while Matt now serves as the First Lutheran Church Council president, works with the Minnesota West Foundation’s grain exchange program, has increased his participation in Farm Bureau, and serves on the marketing and promotion committee of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, where he also serves on the board of directors.

“As long as my dad is willing to keep doing chores, I can keep being gone,” said Matt with a laugh. He still helps out at the radio station on occasion as well.

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