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EAST LANSING, MI -- Ottawa County youth Joshua Tripp and  Clinton County resident Adalee Thelen were recognized as the highest point-getters in the junior division of this year’s Michigan 4-H and Youth Dairy Days, an annual dairy youth activity held in conjunction with Michigan Dairy Expo. The 20th annual expo took place July 17-212 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, Michigan 4-H 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, nearly 200 youth from around the state participated in one or more of the educational competitions, and winners may go on to represent Michigan in national competitions. 

Tripp, of Dorr, was awarded the Overall Dairy Youth Dairy Days High Rank Award in the junior division and received a $1,000 cash prize. Thelen, 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 participant 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 youth spend many hours learning and practicing with their teams and coaches to prepare for Dairy Days,” Elischer said. 

“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.”

For more information about the Michigan 4-H dairy youth program, contact Elischer at 517-432-4306. For more information about the Michigan Dairy Expo, contact Dr. Joe Domecq at 517-353-7855.

The 2018 Michigan Dairy Expo is scheduled for July 16-20 at MSU.

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