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High honors await Holstein youths in YDJM, DJM events

Six of the 12 DJM semi-finalists hail from Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- Holstein Association USA has announced the eight finalists in the 2014 Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) competition and 12 semifinalists in the 2014 Distinguished Junior Member (DJM) contest.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas were well represented in both contests.

Of the eight finalists in the YDJM contest, three hailed from the East. They were Daniel Kitchen from Danville, Pa.; Stephanie McBath from Schuylerville, N.Y. and Sarah Thomas from Pittsboro, N.C.

In the DJM contest the region stood out with six of the 12 semi-finlalists. Pennsylvania is represented by Sara Kitchen of Danville, Jaylene Lesher of Bernville and Lauren Nell from Gettysburg. New York fielded Meghan Vail from Vernon and Emma Andrew from Newark. And representing Maryland is Elizabeth Davis of Union Bridge.

The YDJM award is the highest honor a Holstein Association Junior member, between the ages of 9 and 16, can achieve. To qualify, youth must compile a book which exhibits their involvement and leadership within the Holstein community, their school, and in other aspects of their life.

Completing the list of the eight finalists in the 2014 YDJM competition are Haely Leiding, Fountain, Minn.; Megan Nelson, Ettrick, Wis.; Nicole Pralle, Humbird, Wis.; Sierra Swanson, Hutchinson, Minn.; and Lora Wright, Verona, Mo.

In his story of Junior Holstein work, 16-year-old Daniel Kitchen wrote: “My involvement in the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Association and Holstein USA has helped me develop the skills and knowledge to be a great representative of the dairy industry.”

“Working and learning on the farm is the best experience anyone could ask for,”wrote 15-year-old Megan Nelson in her story of Junior Holstein work. “I know that the skills that I have learned will be extremely beneficial to me in the future as it pertains to my career. My goal is to one day have a barn full of Excellent cows and be an ambassador for the industry in order to tell others just how great Registered Holstein cows really are!”

DJM recognition is the highest honor that a Junior Holstein Association member can receive, recognizing outstanding youth and their involvement with the Holstein breed. Applicants must submit an entry book including essays discussing their participation in Junior Holstein programs, a detailed resume of their school and community involvement, and clearly express their knowledge of the dairy industry.

Aside from the six semifinalists from Farmshine’s prime readership area, the other winners were: Hayleigh Geurink, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills, Wis.; Ryan Pralle, Humbird, Wis.; Nicholas Schuster, Fond du Lac, Wis.; Carrie Warmka, Fox Lake, Wis.; and Joshua Simon, Farley, Iowa.

“My Holstein story had been a whirlwind of hard work and excitement, and I can’t wait to see where this ride will take me next,” wrote 19-year-old Hayleigh Geurink in her story of Junior Holstein work. “The dairy industry and the many wonderful people I have met through it have developed me into the person I am today, and I want to do everything in my power to give back to this great community of dairy enthusiasts,” she declared.

Ryan Pralle, 20, wrote about the impact Registered Holsteins have had on him: “My life thus far has been painted ‘black and white’ with Holstein involvement and dairy activities. These experiences as well as growing up on a progressive dairy farm have given me immense knowledge, leadership growth, and inspiration to continue working in the dairy industry. Without a doubt, much of my interest in life sciences and genetics was fostered early on from my experiences in dairy bowl and interacting with our professional consultants.”

The 12 DJM semifinalists will continue on to interview at the National Holstein Convention, to be held June 24-28, in Dubuque, Iowa, to become one of six finalists. All YDJM winners and DJM semi-finalists will be recognized during a special luncheon for Juniors.