Cameron Cook is Michigan’s top senior dairy cattle judge

EAST LANSING, MI -- Pewamo resident Cameron Cook, 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 19th annual, took place July 18-21 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in East Lansing. As the high individual overall in the senior division, Cook received the George M. Robb Memorial Award. She was also the high individual overall in oral reasons for this year’s contest.

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. Heberling, Sanilac County (Carsonville)

3. Hope McAlvey, Clinton County (Sumner)

4. Madeline Meyer, Clinton County (Ionia)

5. Kristen Burkhardt, Livingston County (Fowlerville)

6. Shannon Good, Allegan County (Caledonia)

7. Josh Markel, Clinton County (Westphalia)

8. Forrest Nash, Clinton County (Elsie)

9. Allison Schafer, Clinton County (Westphalia)

10. Morgan Luoma, Calhoun County (East LeRoy)

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

12. Skylar Buell, Monroe County (Temperance)

13. Gerrit Baker, Ottawa County (Byron Center)

14. Chelsea Barnes, Ottawa County (Grand Haven)

15. Cassidy Polzin, Washtenaw County (Saline)

16. Miles Wixom, Allegan County (Bloomingdale)

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

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

19. Lance Frahm, Saginaw County (Frankenmuth)

20. Jacob Arens, Clinton County (Portland)

21. Jake Nugent, Kent County (Lowell)

22. Ashton Geurink, Ottawa County (Allendale)

23. Skylar Daray, Kent County (Ada)

24. Caitie Theisen, Isabella County (Mt. Pleasant)

25. Morgan Ybema, Allegan County (Hopkins)

In the team category, Clinton County Team A placed first overall and first in oral reasons. Team members were: Cameron Cook, of Pewamo; Josh Markel, of Westphalia; Madeline Meyer, of Ionia; Allison Schafer, of Westphalia.

The second place team overall and in oral reasons, was also from Clinton County (Team B). Team members were: Hope McAlvey, of Sumner; Miriam Cook, of Pewamo; Miriah Dershem and Carmen Hicks, of St. Johns. The third place team overall was from Kent County: Kristen Burkhardt, of Fowlerville (Livingston County); Skylar Daray, of Ada; Connor Nugent, of Clarksville; and Jake Nugent, of Lowell. Fourth high team overall and third place in oral reasons was the team representing Ottawa and Saginaw counties. Team members were: Gerrit Baker, of Byron Center; Chelsea Barnes, of Grand Haven; Lance Frahm, of Frankenmuth; and Ashton Geurink, of Allendale. Clinton County Team C placed fifth overall. Team members were: Jacob Arens, of Portland; Forrest and Jessica Nash, of Elsie; and Holden Schrader, of DeWitt.

Thirteen teams competed in the senior division.

For the oral reasons contest in the senior division, rounding out the top 10 individuals, in chronological order, were:

2. Lauren Heberling, Sanilac County (Carsonville)

3. Madeline Meyer, Clinton County (Ionia)

4. Chelsea Barnes, Ottawa County (Grand Haven)

5. Kristen Burkhardt, Livingston County (Fowlerville)

6. Allison Schafer, Clinton County (Westphalia)

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

8. Josh Markel, Clinton County (Westphalia)

9. Shannon Good, Allegan County (Caledonia)

10. Miles Wixom, Allegan County (Bloomingdale)

The fourth place team in oral reasons was the joint team of Shiawassee and Sanilac counties. Team members were: Grace Chisley, of Perry; Jarod Sanderson, of Sandusky; Taylor Fuhrman, of Perry; and Lauren Heberling, of Carsonville. The fifth place team in oral reasons was Allegan County. Team members were: Makenna Davies, of Wayland; Shannon Good and Anna Wehler, of Caledonia; and Miles Wixom, of Bloomingdale.

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 170 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.

For complete lists of results from the 2016 4-H Youth Dairy Days, visit

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.

The 2017 Michigan Dairy Expo is scheduled for July 17-21 at MSU.