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Spotlight on Youth - Jan. 2, 2013
Kentucky native named national Shorthorn royalty
OMAHA, Neb. — The National Lassie Queen Contest had a change of venue this year and was held during the National Shorthorn Show at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky. Four candidates for National Shorthorn Lassie Queen and National Alternate Lassie Queen waited in suspense for the results to be announced prior to the selection of the Grand Champion Female on Monday, Nov. 12.

Jessica McCall, Crestwood, Ky., was named the 2012-2013 National Lassie Queen while Megan Dragstrem, Amboy, Ind., was named the National Alternate Lassie Queen. The two young ladies were crowned by the 2011-2012 National Lassie Queen Jennifer Cox, Coatsville, Ind., and Alternate National Lassie Queen Randene Davis, Glenville, Minn., who ended their reign with the crowning of new Shorthorn royalty at the NAILE. 

McCall is the 21-year-old daughter of Michael and Cheryl McCall. She is attending Murray State University where she will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She has been active in the cattle industry for the last 13 years and is looking forward to traveling to Scotland in May when she graduates. 
Dragstrem is the daughter of Bob and Elaine Dragstrem. She is a senior at Macanquah High School in Bunker Hill, Ind. Megan is a fourth generation Shorthorn breeder and has been an active American Junior Shorthorn Association (AJSA) member. A highlight of her Shorthorn involvement has been the KEY Conferences she has attended. 

The young ladies began their competition with a meet and greet with the other candidates and board members from the Lassie Association. Following, they introduced themselves at the Annual National Lassie Meeting and sold 50/50 tickets throughout the stalls allowing them the opportunity to visit with breeders. As a part of the competition, each candidate also created a scrapbook that were judged and put on display during the weekend to help breeders and exhibitors know each candidate better. One highlight was the Lassie dinner at the Cardinal Café where many of them experience their very first derby pie.

The National and Alternate Shorthorn Lassie Queens will attend the 2013 National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., the 2013 National Junior Shorthorn Show in Des Moines, Iowa, and the 2013 North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky., to promote the Shorthorn breed and represent the American Shorthorn Association (ASA). They may also attend other national shows or PACE events, sales, etc., as the National Shorthorn Lassie Queen and National Alternate Shorthorn Lassie Queen, representing the Shorthorn breed.

While representing the breed, the National Shorthorn Lassie Queen will be dressed in the official Queen attire; which consists of a stole and badge, kilt, black velveteen jacket, tailored blouse, black boots, crown and sash. This costume is reminiscent of Scottish attire and the tartan kilt is known as the Royal Stuart.
For more information on AJSA activities, visit or contact Gwen Crawford, director of junior activities at 402-393-7200 or

Michigan Dairy Ambassador program seeks applicants
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan high school and college students who are interested in pursuing a career in the dairy industry have until Jan. 8 to apply for the 2013 Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program. The annual program awards two scholarships, one to a junior winner and another to a senior winner. The senior division is reserved for college students up to age 22, with the winner receiving a $1,500 scholarship. The junior division is limited to high school students in grades nine to 12, and the winner receives $1,000 that can be applied toward higher education or the purchase of a dairy animal within the upcoming year. Applicants are not required to have a dairy farm background, but they must plan to pursue a career related to the dairy industry, such as a farm owner, dietician, agribusiness person, veterinarian, food scientist or researcher. The scholarship program is funded through a benefit auction held at the annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC). 

Sara Long, founder of the scholarship program, says the program does not take a cookie-cutter approach to developing leadership skills but instead offers sufficient flexibility so that leadership and learning experiences can be customized to meet the specific goals of the ambassador.

Currently, Britney Zondlak, MSU dairy management and agribusiness student and native of Byron Center, is serving as the 2012 senior Michigan dairy ambassador. Kailey Sweers, a freshman at Hope College who was originally from Dansville, is the junior Michigan dairy ambassador. In exchange for the scholarship, an ambassadors represents Michigan’s dairy industry at a variety of educational, industrial and promotional events held across the state during the year. Ambassadors also have numerous opportunities to build leadership skills, begin focusing on career options, and network with potential mentors and employers.

Students interested in applying for the  program can download an application from or contact Megghan Honke at 517-353-3175, ext. 229. Applications must be submitted electronicallyto and will be accepted until Jan. 8.