NAMPA — Nampa Chamber of Commerce CEO Mitch Minnette said one of the highlights of the chamber’s annual agriculture forum, slated for Tuesday is when the Idaho governor recognizes an FFA student who won a speech contest based on each year’s theme.

This year’s theme is: “Dollars and Sense: How agriculture is driving the economy.”

The forum takes place from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Ford Idaho Center.

Jill Cryder with the Nampa chamber, said eight students are competing this year, and presented their speeches at a separate event on Jan. 24.

The winner will receive $100, and will present at the forum, introduced by Gov. Brad Little. Second- and third-place winners each will receive $50 and $25, respectively.

Last year’s winner, Ashton Shaul, of Meridian, is now a student at the University of Idaho, majoring in agricultural education. Shaul has been raising and showing sheep, and dairy and beef cattle on a small family farm for nine years through 4-H and FFA, but has been practicing public speaking for much longer.

Shaul said she has been competing in public speaking events since she was 9 years old through her local optimist club. She joined 4-H a few years later, and then got involved in FFA when she entered high school, she said.

Her winning speech at last year’s forum was about bio-technology, and how it could impact Idaho’s agriculture and economy. Shaul said she had a great time at the event, especially knowing she was speaking to an audience who were experts in their field.

“It was cool knowing that the people I was talking to would actually take something away from what I said,” Shaul said.

Though she is not sure how agriculture will play a role in her future, Shaul said she is interested in pursuing a career in education.

“Agriculture is a huge part of my life and always will be,” Shaul said.

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