Clinton County youth Jessica Nash and Carmen Hicks were recognized as the highest point-getters in the junior division of this year's Michigan Youth Dairy Days, an annual dairy youth activity held in conjunction with Michigan Dairy Expo. The 17th annual expo took place July 15–19 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in East Lansing.
As the youth-centered portion of the Michigan Dairy Expo, the largest annual dairy event in the state, Youth Dairy Days offers young people interested in the dairy industry opportunities to compete for premiums, ribbons and scholarships in various educational activities, including dairy quiz bowls, dairy management contests, dairy cattle judging competitions and the Dairy Days youth show. This year more than 200 youth members from around the state participated in one or more of the educational competitions, and winners may go on to represent Michigan in national competitions.
Nash, of Elsie, was awarded the Overall Dairy Youth Dairy Days High Rank Award in the junior division and received a $1,000 cash prize. Hicks, of St. Johns, was named the Reserve Overall Dairy Youth Dairy Days High Rank Award winner in the junior division and received a $750 cash prize.
The Overall Dairy Youth Dairy Days High Rank Award is awarded to the contestant who accumulates the highest total rankings in three of four contest categories: dairy cattle judging (conformation placings and oral reasons), dairy management, quiz bowl and showmanship. The junior division is open to youth ages 9 to 14. A similar contest is held for youth ages 15 to 19 (senior division). Each participant may only win the high rank award once in the junior division and once in the senior division.
Melissa Elischer, Michigan dairy youth educator and director of Youth Dairy Days, said that the weeklong educational event serves as the stage for showcasing some of the industry's most talented and engaged young people and future dairy industry leaders. She said youth must learn a number of skills and knowledge in the weeks and months leading up to the event.
"It requires a lot of commitment on the part of young people to prepare for Dairy Days. These young people spend many hours practicing and preparing for this event," Elischer says. "Once here, youth then have to budget and prioritize their time to compete in back-to-back contests, often while being responsible for taking care of their show animals in the barn."
Awards and other recognition during Youth Dairy Days, along with other dairy youth and judging program activities conducted throughout the year, are made possible through the generous support of numerous businesses, organizations and individuals. These include: ABS Global, the Branch County Dairy Organization, the Clinton County 4-H Dairy Council, the Clinton County 4-H Dairy Leaders, Cole Riverview Farms, Country Fresh, Dairy Farmers of America, the District 1 and District VI Holstein associations, Drs. Joe and Denise Domecq, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Hillsdale County Dairy Leaders, the Huron County Holstein Association, Ira Krupp, Land O'Lakes Purina Feeds, the Michigan Dairy Memorial Foundation, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Holstein Association, the Michigan Jersey Cattle Club, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the Michigan Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, the MSU Dairy Club, the MSU Dairy Judging Team, the MSU Department of Animal Science, MOO-ville Creamery, NorthStar Cooperative, the Osceola County 4-H Dairy Boosters, the Ottawa County 4-H Dairy Committee, Rodney Pennock, Purina Animal Nutrition, the Shiawassee County 4-H Dairy Association, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, United Producers, VanBeek Natural Science and Yoplait-Colombo.
For more information about the Michigan dairy youth program at MSU, contact Elischer at 517-432-4306. For more information about the Michigan Dairy Expo, contact Dr. Joe Domecq at 517-353-7855.
The 2014 Michigan Dairy Expo is scheduled for July 14-18 at MSU.