Tino Rossi came to Fresno State much like any other freshman. Rossi, an agriculture business major, had no idea his first year as a college student would include winning the American Farm Bureau Federation Collegiate Discussion Meet at the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference.
At the meet four topics were discussed: Obesity, animal welfare, growing world demand and social media in agriculture.
In the finals Rossi was asked what could be done to expand farmer-consumer interaction. The solution he proposed was the use of social media to interest and “draw consumers into real-life agricultural activities.”
Rossi is originally from Bakersfield and agriculture has always been his number-one interest.
“I always wanted to study agriculture in college,” Rossi said. “With Fresno County being the number-one agricultural county in the nation, it only made sense to study ag at the school located in the heart of American agriculture.”
While still in high school, Rossi competed in last year’s National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Convention in the extemporaneous speaking finals and finished as the fourth-place individual in the nation.
Rossi credits this experience as having prepared him for the Collegiate Discussion Meet.
“My feelings were a mix of excitement and determination,” Rossi said. “This wasn’t my first National Speaking Contest appearance, so I wasn’t nervous. However, in my last appearance, I came up just short finishing fourth in the nation in the extemporaneous speaking National Championships and did not want to come back again without a national championship.”
Not only is Rossi involved in the Agriculture Department on campus, he is also an active member of the FFA.
Rossi’s determination and knowledge of the agriculture industry has made an impact on his piers who share similar hopes.
“The Agriculture Department is so proud of Tino,” fellow FFA member Mandy Hill said. “He is an amazing leader and role model in the agriculture industry. His talent for speaking and knowledge of the agriculture industry is recognized by his great achievement and he will certainly continue to be a fantastic representative for our school,”
Dr. Steve Rocca, the discussion team advisor, was a great influence on Rossi and his success at the Collegiate Discussion Meet.
“I knew he had what it would take to win, but putting together four outstanding performances in a row is very difficult,” Rocca said. “I was so proud of him. There was some very talented competitors in the contest, but Tino stood out and rightly so.”
Once Rossi receives his Master’s degree in leadership development, he plans to begin his career in politics while simultaneously running a managerial consulting firm.
“With his intelligence and communication skills, Tino will have many doors open to him in the future,” Rocca said.
Rocca has no doubt that his current student will be a successful advocate for agriculture.
“I look forward to seeing him make a positive impact on our industry someday,” Rocca said. “We need more people like Tino to help promote agriculture and help educate society on the great work that our farmers and ranchers do each day to feed our country and the world.”