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Michigan FFA dairy judging team takes national contest
Michigan Correspondent

EAST LANSING, Mich. — It was history in the making when the Michigan dairy judging team recently claimed its first-ever championship in the FFA contest at the 43rd annual All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa.

The Michigan team finished first overall among seven teams, beating second-place Georgia by 36 points. The team also swept past Georgia to place first in the oral reasons part of the contest.

Taking top honors for the team was Heather Fry, of Blanchard, a freshman at Michigan State University (MSU) studying kinesiology. She was second highest in both oral reasons and overall. She also placed first in the Guernsey breed, second in Holsteins, and fourth in Jerseys and linear evaluation.

“Heather is a dedicated dairy judging student,” said Joe Domecq, specialist in the MSU Department of Animal Science and dairy judging coach. “She has committed a lot of time and effort into readying herself for competition this fall, and her hard work has paid off.”

Michigan placed among the top five in all breeds, taking home the team trophy for the Guernsey and Jersey breeds, and placing second in Holsteins, third in Brown Swiss, and fourth in Ayrshires and linear evaluation.

“This team was very conscientious during our practice judging workouts en route to Harrisburg. It was a strong contest so it was particularly rewarding to see their efforts pay off with a team win, a first for Michigan FFA,” said Sara Long, the team’s other coach.

“Heather has really excelled over the past year and she has a lot of potential to go far in her collegiate judging career,” Long said. “I’m really impressed by how she continues to improve. I don’t think she realizes just how good she is and how good she can become with continued practice. She sees cows and she can talk cows - and she can do both very well.”

Other team members were Jake Shephard, Brown City; Kendra Stieg, Hersey; and Eric Sneller, Sebewaing.

Shephard placed second in Jerseys and fourth overall; Stieg was fifth in the Ayshire breed, fifth in oral reasons and sixth place overall; and Sneller had the second highest score in Brown Swiss and the third highest score in Jerseys, and he placed eighth in the contest.

“These kids commit a lot of time from their weekends and evenings, and some sacrifice involvement in other extracurricular activities for a chance to judge at some of the country’s toughest competitions,” Domecq said.

“The professional and social skills learned during this process will be useful in these young people’s future, regardless of the professions they choose,” he added. “Judging dairy cattle and then orally defending your placing in front of an expert is not an easy skill to master. It’s a real testament to these students’ hard work ethic.”

This farm news was published in the Oct. 18, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.