BARTOW – Two years ago Madison Dvorak won the state finals of the Florida Farm Bureau Youth Speech Contest as a sophomore at Kathleen High in Lakeland and that victory has opened some doors for her.
Now as a senior she, who has no agriculture background in her family, is president of FFA, District 8 and the federal district. She is also earning college credits this year. Not only does she work on that as well as her studies, she works at an equine facility.
Dvorak was on hand to cheer on the next county winner at the Polk County Speech Contest on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Polk County Farm Bureau in Bartow.
Dvorak originally got interested in agriculture when she was 12 years old when she finished fifth in the state in a science and technology contest.
At the state speech contest which she won in 2016, the topic was “What is an unmanned aerial system and how it can be used to impact agriculture.” Eight contestants were judged on content and delivery and each had five minutes.
Dvorak said before she took on the subject she really didn't know how drones were used on farms.
“I thought you had to purchase them, but I found out you pay someone to do it,” she recalled.
Meant to promote an interest and understanding agricultural aspects Dvorak won a plaque and $500 for winning.
Due to the victory, she said she was able to meet political leaders, university professors, extension agents and “a variety of people.”
That moves along with he personal career goal of becoming active in agricultural policy.
When waiting for the results of the state finals, she acted as one would think a high school student would act at a state contest.
“I was nervous,” she said but when they came in, “I was ecstatic. I was 15 years old … ”
Her instructor, Broderic Ogzewalla, was not as nervous.
“She really nailed it,” he recalled.
After watching her give the speech in the county and then the district title he felt she had a good chance of winning the finals.
“Then she answered question after question they asked her,” he said.
Carole McKenzie, executive director of the Polk County Farm Bureau, was on hand at the finals and said Dvorak's speech and said, “It was apparent she was talented. She showed so much enthusiasm.”
McKenzie added the speech was polished and, “I had a lot of confidence.”
Helps who she can
She understands the position she's put herself in and through her uTube page she has gotten calls from people around the country.
“They ask how do you win? They want advice or my help,” she said. And, she helps.
“I say yes to everyone I can,” she added.
In Polk County, the Farm Bureau promotes economic, legal, research, and regulatory issues. It focuses on five areas that includes Agricultural Education & Promotion, Legislative Outreach & Policy Development, Public Relations, Leadership Development and Organizational Management. It also focuses the students on leadership development to motivate future leaders of the farm industries.
“It's really exciting to us to see young people come in and shine,” McKenzie said.