“WOW!” “I can’t believe how fast…..” “Incredible!” were among the reactions to the demonstration given at the Winnfield Rotary Club meeting on April 6, 2022. Al Simmons, Rotarian of the day, introduced his guests, Peyton Arthur and Ryan Riley, teachers in the high school agriculture program and advisers of the Winnfield High School Future Farmers of America (FFA). They in turn introduced some outstanding agriculture students, Peyton Little, current president of the State FFA, and the members of Winnfield FFA’s parliamentary law team who won first place at the state competition: Annie Heard, Addison Jacobsen, Lauren Poole, Micah Simmons, Joy So, and Alyssa VanBlaricum.
Mr. Arthur and Mr. Riley explained that their agriculture courses and the FFA club activities go hand-in-hand, the ag students learning the basics of parliamentary procedure and Roberts’ Rules of Order, as well as a great deal of other information and training in subjects like shooting, horticulture, woodworking, in the agriculture classrooms, and then building on, refining and improving that knowledge and skill through involvement in FFA activities.
As to the required knowledge of parliamentary procedure, each ag student must learn the basics of it and be able to demonstrate effective use of the five motions available in meetings by the end of the second year in agriculture. FFA members who want to compete on a team must then put in many extra hours studying parliamentary procedure and Roberts’ Rules of Order and practicing using them effectively in meetings to be competitive against other FFA teams.
Peyton Little spoke about how much he has learned in his agriculture classes and in FFA. He attributes his attainment of the office of statewide FFA president to his instruction, practice and experience in parliamentary procedure which he learned in ag and FFA. This practice developed his ability to argue his position in a civil manner and his public speaking skills, as well as the confidence he needed to aspire to become statewide president.
The parliamentary law team gave a stellar performance demonstrating their skills in proper and effective conducting of a business meeting in less than eleven minutes, which prompted the comments mentioned at the beginning of this article. According to the advisers, each parliamentary law team consists of six people, one chairman and five voting members. Each team member is given a card at the beginning of their meeting, and one minute—60 seconds—to review it. Each card describes the scenario of the meeting and gives each team member his or her assignment, that is, which motions each must make and debate and settle during the meeting. Each voting member must make two motions and make four arguments in debate, and each motion must be settled. The meeting must be completed in eleven minutes. When the meeting exceeds eleven minutes, the team begins to lose points for the time over the limit.
In the demonstration by Winnfield’s state champion team, once the clock started, the motions were made fast and furiously! Each team member was articulate but polite and brief in advancing his or her motion and in supporting it in debate. Not a second was wasted and the meeting was completed in 10 minutes and 52 seconds. Very impressive! Each member made the motions required in the briefest language possible that would still communicate the idea being expressed.
There followed a short session in which each team member defined or described the motions or rules of parliamentary procedure demonstrated in the “speed meeting.” Each one was letter perfect. Clearly, the students have spent many hours studying the rules of parliamentary procedure and practicing demonstrations. This team will compete at the national FFA convention in Indianapolis in the summer. Based on their demonstration to Rotary, there can be little doubt they will reach the higher levels of competition, barring unforeseen circumstances. Regardless of whether these students return with the top trophy from their summer adventure, this community can be proud of their dedication and expertise, and know they will give outstanding performances to compete with the best in the nation.
Congratulations to each team member and adviser, and best wishes for continued success and victory on the parliamentary battlefield!