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Midland County’s Sarah Zastrow wins state Farm Bureau discussion meet

State Young Farmer Discussion Meet Winner Sarah Zastrow, flanked by MFB President Carl Bednarski (left) and State Young Farmer Chair Paul Pridgeon. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: November 30, 2021

Sarah Zastrow of Midland County took the top spot at Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) 2021 Young Farmer Discussion Meet Nov. 30 at MFB's 102nd Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.

Zastrow grew up on a Saginaw County farm near Freeland, and now works ground south of Midland with her husband Zack, raising corn and soybeans and processing popcorn.

Zastrow’s life’s work is in helping farmers combat stress and other mental health challenges, a mission she’s championed through her business Cultivate Balance since 2016. She’s contributed that expertise as a panelist in MFB’s Farmers After Hours series, brought the same priority to the fore as Midland County Farm Bureau president, and most recently launched a new farm-stress podcast, Throwing Wrenches Mending Fences.

The other three finalists were Dalton Hard (Branch County), Katelyn Packard (Washtenaw) and Katie Wernette (Mecosta).

Discussion Meets are a competitive simulated committee meeting, where competitors are judged on their ability to explore a problem and find solutions. Topics addressed in the final rounds included:

  • Studies show more farmers and farm families are experiencing stress and mental health issues. What can farmers, ranchers and Farm Bureau do to proactively promote good mental health in both themselves and their communities?
  • As the world population increases, so will the need for renewable resources. On a local level and across the globe, how can Farm Bureau help farmers and ranchers continue to increase their efficiency in the use of valuable resources and transition to “Green Energy” practices on their farm or ranch?
  • COVID revealed several cracks involving the processing of livestock. How can Farm Bureau policy support easing government regulations to ensure long-term economic viability for local animal processing facilities, while ensuring the health of workers and that a healthy product is still delivered to consumers?

After a dozen regional contests across the state this summer, 37 participants were narrowed to a field of 16 semifinalists: the final four rounded out with Andrew Braun (Clinton County), Riley Brazo (St. Joseph), Marcia Cripps (St. Joseph), Robyn Fogarasi (Arenac), Michael Genovese (Oakland), Natalie Holbrook (Lapeer), Sarah Hollon (Clare), Brennan Mudd (Midland), Riley Smith (Isabella), Lane Stotler (Oceana), Katelyn Thompson (Eaton) and Karl Wernette (Mecosta).

As the state-level winner, Zastrow takes home a $2,000 cash prize sponsored by AIS equipment and the opportunity to represent Michigan at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet in Atlanta next January.