REDWOOD FALLS - Minnesota Pork Board announced the winners of its state pork ambassador search Wednesday at Farmfest near Redwood Falls.
The winner of the contest and 2014 state pork ambassador is Jacob Sorensen of Freeborn County. First runner-up is Erin Wicker of Stearns County and second runner-up is Andrew Praus of Goodhue County.
Ambassadors are responsible for visiting producers and learning about the industry, as well as making public appearances and teaching the public about the industry.
The announcement marked the end of a series of events for students participating in the scholarship and advocacy program. Students prepared essays and interviews, and gave public presentations to determine who best represents the industry.
Martin County was represented by two pork ambassadors, Levi Becker and Emily Wegener.
Becker gave a presentation at Farmfest about the need for agriculture education for the future of the pork industry.
He gave audience members a look into the life of a pig, from piglet to slaughter, emphasizing the need for educating the public on why the farmer works the way he does.
Becker is a fourth-generation farmer on the family farm in rural Northrop. The 2013 Fairmont High School graduate plans to attend college to earn a degree in agribusiness, after which he will return to work on the farm.
Becker praised Fairmont High School for its resurrected ag program, noting he was able to follow in his grandfather's footsteps with FFA involvement.
He used personal experience in FFA and 4-H as a case study for how these programs can help raise the next generation of farmers.
"FFA programs should be in every school," he said.
Wegener also graduated from Fairmont High School and has been active in school and her community and is a member of FFA and 4-H, an organization that has meant a great deal to her.
"Twelve years ago, when I showed at my first livestock show, I knew it was something I really loved and was passionate about,'' she said. "This has given me a passion that I will carry into my future career."
Wegener said one issue facing the industry is feed prices. In order to reduce some costs on the farm, Wegener suggests a switch to wet-dry feeders to improve feed efficiency.