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Area youth win dairy management contest

EAST LANSING, MI -- Youth from Ottawa, Lapeer and Clinton counties were the high novice, junior and senior individuals, respectively, in this year's dairy management contest held during Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days, an annual dairy youth activity held in conjunction with Michigan Dairy Expo. The 18th annual expo took place July 20-24 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in East Lansing.

The dairy management contest is a practical, hands-on competition that tests contestants' dairy knowledge. Youth rotate through a series of stations representing a variety of dairy management-related topics. At each station, contestants may be asked to perform tasks, identify common tools, feeds and other common items used on dairy farms, write an answer on a card or deliver an answer orally to a judge. They are asked to demonstrate specific skills, such as proper calf management, how to artificially inseminate a cow, proper calving-assistance methods and nutritional case studies.

Dairy management contest participants can compete in one of three age divisions: novice (ages 9-11), junior (ages 11-14) or senior (ages 15-19). Contest material becomes more complicated as the age division increases.

The top 10 high ranking individuals in the novice division were:

1. Brandon Dreyer, Ottawa County (Zeeland)

2. Taylor Gager, Gratiot County (Elwell)

3. Matthew Whitaker, Clinton County (Elsie)

4. Delbert Smith, Ottawa County (Hudsonville)

5. Macy Pish, Branch County (Quincy)

6. Katie Polzin, Washtenaw County (Saline)

7. Lydia Deters, Isabella County (Fremont)

8. Hunter Meekhof, Ottawa County (Zeeland)

9. Emily Wilson, Isabella County (Blanchard)

10. Abigail Wilson, Isabella County (Blanchard)

In the novice team division, the team of Gratiot and Isabella county youth made up of Lydia Deters, of Fremont, Taylor Gager, of Elwell, and Abigail and Emily Wilson, of Blanchard, placed first. The second place team was from Ottawa County. Team members were: Brandon Dreyer and Hunter Meekhof, of Zeeland; Delbert Smith, of Hudsonville; and Caitlyn Tietman, of Zeeland. Clinton County Team A placed third with the following team members: Olivia Black, of Eagle; Jolene Nash and Matthew Whitaker, of Elsie; and Paul Meyer, of Ionia. The Allegan, Eaton, Ottawa and Washtenaw contingent of Braidy Abbott, of Grand Ledge; Braxton Meekhof, of Zeeland, Katie Polzin, of Saline, and Martin Ybema, of Hopkins, placed fourth. In the fifth slot was the Clinton County B and Shiawassee County team made up of Brianne and Thomas Halfman, of St. Johns, Samuel Meyer, of Ionia, and Amber Szakal, of Corunna.

The top 10 high ranking individuals in the junior division were:

1. Jonah Haskins, Lapeer County (Marlette)

2. Jake Nugent, Kent County (Belding)

3. Leslie McAlvey, Clinton County (Sumner)

4. Brittany Dreyer, Ottawa County (Zeeland)

5. Miriam Cook, Clinton County (Pewamo)

6. Shannon Good, Allegan County (Caledonia)

7. Adalee Thelen, Clinton County (St. Johns)

8. Hayley Wineland, Branch County (Coldwater)

9. Chrissy Polzin, Washtenaw County (Saline)

10. Caleb Tucker, Allegan County (Hopkins)

Clinton County Team A clinched the blue ribbon in the team category. Team members were: Miriam Cook, of Pewamo; Devin Kora, of Elsie; Leslie McAlvey, of Sumner; and Kyle Schafer, of Westphalia. Ottawa County Team A placed second. Team members were: Ashton Geurink, of Zeeland; Brittany Dreyer, of Zeeland; Joshua Tripp, of Dorr; and Jacob VanderMolen, of Allendale. Clinton County Team B placed third: Ian Black, of Eagle; Dakota Dershem, of St. Johns; Joe Simon, of Westphalia; and Adalee Thelen, of St. Johns. Fourth place was won by Allegan County Team A: Makenna Davies, of Wayland; Shannon Good, of Caledonia; and Caleb and Katrina Tucker, of Hopkins. The fifth place team represented Branch and Lapeer counties. Team members were: Makenzie Blatter, of Reading; Carolyn DeLong, of North Branch; Jonah Haskins, of Marlette; and Mariah Jansen, of Sturgis.

The top 10 high ranking individuals in the senior division were:

1. Allison Schafer, Clinton County (Westphalia)

2. Charlie McAlvey, Clinton County (Sumner)

3. Miles Wixom, Allegan County (Bloomingdale)

4. Josh Markel, Clinton County (Westphalia)

5. Shelby Berens, Allegan County (Holland)

6. Seth Hulst, Ottawa County (Hudsonville)

7. Carmen Hicks, Clinton County (St. Johns)

8. Samantha Boettcher, Allegan County (Gobles)

9. Caleb Shearer, Ottawa County (Hudsonville)

10. Jessie Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

For the second year in a row, the winning team in the senior division was Clinton County Team A. Team members were: Cameron Cook, Pewamo; Joshua Markel, Westphalia; Forrest Nash, Elsie; and Allison Schafer, Westphalia. Clinton County Team B placed second with team members Miriah Dershem and Carmen Hicks, of St. Johns, Charlie McAlvey, of Sumner, and Maddie Meyer, of Ionia. The third place team represented Allegan and Lapeer counties: Shelby Berens, of Holland; McKenzie DeLong, of North Branch; Jared Westendorp, of Martin; and Miles Wixom, of Bloomingdale. Ottawa County Team A placed fourth. Team members were: Gerrit Baker, of Byron Center; Chelsea Barnes, of Zeeland; and Seth Hulst and Caleb Shearer, of Hudsonville. The team from Shiawassee County Team A finished fifth. Team members were: Alexis Butcher, of Corunna Megan Crevier, of Corunna; Taylor Fuhrman, of Perry; and Dakota Place, of Perry.

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 150 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.

Awards and other recognition during Michigan 4-H 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, AIS Equipment, the Branch County Dairy Organization, the CHS Foundation, the Clinton County 4-H Dairy Council, 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, Ira Krupp, Lely, 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 College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, the MSU Dairy Club, the MSU Dairy Cattle 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, and the Vitality Dairy crew.

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.