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Joshua Markel receives George M. Robb Memorial Award

EAST LANSING, MI -- St. Johns resident Joshua Markel, a 4-H member from Clinton County, was the state's top senior division dairy cattle judge at the Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days, an annual dairy youth activity held in conjunction with the Michigan Dairy Expo. This year's expo, the 18th annual, took place July 20-24 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in East Lansing. As the high individual overall in the senior division, Markel received the George M. Robb Memorial Award.

Fellow Clinton County team member Madeline (Maddy) Meyer, of Ionia, was the high individual overall in oral reasons in the senior division.

Youth are eligible to compete in one of three age divisions in the dairy cattle judging contest: novice, junior or senior. Participants in the senior category – for young people ages 15 to 21 – evaluated the conformation of eight classes of dairy animals (four animals in each class) and presented three sets of oral reasons. Evaluation scores were tallied according to how closely the contestant's placing matched the judges' official placing. In the oral reasons presentation, which is comparable to making an oral defense case in court, judges assign individual scores to each contestant based on how well the young person can justify his or her reasons for placing the cows in the order he or she did. Contestants can earn a total of 50 points in both the evaluation and oral reasons parts of the contest for each class.

Individuals compete against one another with the shared goal of placing among the top 25, which earns them a chance to vie for one of 12 positions on the state's traveling youth dairy cattle judging teams. These teams will compete at three national contests in the fall – the All-American in Harrisburg, Pa., World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., and the North American International Livestock Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. The Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days dairy cattle judging contest is just the first step in what will be a series of intensive workouts and independent practices to earn a spot on one of the teams.

Rounding out the top 25 overall individuals in the senior division of the dairy cattle judging contest, in chronological order, were:

2. Rachel Ekkel, Newaygo County (Fremont)

3. Maddy Meyer, Clinton County (Ionia)

4. Cameron Cook, Clinton County (Pewamo)

5. Allison Schafer, Clinton County (Westphalia)

6. Shelby Berens, Allegan County (Holland)

7. Miles Wixom, Allegan County (Bloomingdale)

8. Gerrit Baker, Ottawa County (Byron Center)

9. Miriah Dershem, Clinton County (St. Johns)

10. Amanda Hicks, Clinton County (St. Johns)

11. Lauren Heberling, Sanilac County (Carsonville)

12. Skylar Buell, Monroe County (Temperance)

13. Chelsea Barnes, Ottawa County (Zeeland)

14. Kristen Burkhardt, Kent County (Lowell)

15. Samantha Boettcher, Allegan County (Gobles)

16. Colleen Harke, Isabella County (Mt. Pleasant)

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

18. Rachel Weidmeyer, Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor)

19. Luke Bowman, Hillsdale County (Jerome)

20. Jessica Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

21. Forrest Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

22. Hope McAlvey, Clinton County (Sumner)

23. Jacob Armstrong, Branch County (Coldwater)

24. Nic Grifka, Sanilac County (Peck)

25. Luke Coats, Isabella County (Gladwin)

In the team category, Clinton County Team A placed first overall and first in oral reasons. Team members were: Cameron Cook, of Pewamo; Miriah Dershem, of St. Johns; Maddy Meyer, of Ionia; Allison Schafer, of Westphalia.

The second place team overall, and third place in oral reasons, was from Allegan County. Team members were: Shelby Berens, of Holland; Samantha Boettcher, of Gobles; Miles Wixom, of Bloomingdale; and Christina Ybema, of Hopkins. The third place team, and second place in oral reasons, was Clinton County Team B. Its team members were: Carmen Hicks and Josh Markel, of St. Johns; Hope McAlvey, of Sumner; and Forrest Nash, of Elsie.

Twelve teams competed in the senior division.

For the oral reasons contest in the senior division, rounding out the top 25 individuals, in chronological order, were:

2. Cameron Cook, Clinton County (Pewamo)

3. Allison Schafer, Clinton County (Westphalia)

4. Joshua Markel, Clinton County (St. Johns)

5. Rachel Ekkel, Newaygo County (Fremont)

6. Chelsea Barnes, Ottawa County (Zeeland)

7. Taylor Fuhrman, Shiawassee County (Perry)

8. Shelby Berens, Allegan County (Holland)

9. Samantha Boettcher, Allegan County (Gobles)

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

11. Miriah Dershem, Clinton County (St. Johns)

12. Mason Horning, Washtenaw County (Manchester)

13. Amanda Hicks, Clinton County (St. Johns)

14. Miles Wixom, Allegan County (Bloomingdale)

15. Rachel Weidmeyer, Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor)

16. Cassidy Polzin, Washtenaw County (Saline)

17. Kristen Burkhardt, Kent County (Lowell)

18. Gerrit Baker, Ottawa County (Byron Center)

19. Forrest Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

20. Skylar Buell, Monroe County (Temperance)

21. Cheyenne Jakus, Clinton County (St. Johns)

22. Hope McAlvey, Clinton County (Sumner)

23. Lance Frahm, Saginaw County (Frankenmuth)

24. Colleen Harke, Isabella County (Mt. Pleasant)

25. Jessica Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

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.