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Wisconsin 4-H Dairy Bowl teams compete in national contests

Some of Wisconsin”s top dairy youth competed in national dairy quiz bowl contests this fall. Richland, Barron and Dane Counties represented Wisconsin this year in two different national contests after earning top honors at the Wisconsin state 4-H dairy bowl contest held last January.

Richland County earned first place honors in the senior division of the Wisconsin state 4-H dairy quiz bowl contest. This first place finish earned them a trip to the national contest held at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky. on November 8, 2008. Team members were Scott Eberle of Lone Rock, Joshua Joseph of Viola, Krysty Kepler of Viola, Tyler Moore of Lone Rock and Brad Solchenberger of Cazenovia. The team was coached by Gloria Joseph and Dana Kepler.

At the NAILE competition, the Wisconsin team earned third place behind first place Minnesota and second place Iowa. Team captain Brad Solchenberger earned honorable mention honors on the 50 question written exam that all participants take to seed the teams. The team did well enough on the written exam to earn a bye in the first round. The Wisconsin team then beat Maine, Maryland and Iowa before losing in a closely contested match against Minnesota. NAILE is a double elimination tournament so the loss put Wisconsin into the consolation bracket to face Iowa again, only to be defeated by a narrow margin. That set up the championship bracket of Minnesota against Iowa with Minnesota winning the Championship and Iowa placing second and Wisconsin third.

“We were all very nervous going to nationals because the competition is run differently than the state competition in Wisconsin, but after the first round was over we had it figured out,” said Coach Dana Kepler. “It was a very exciting day of competition and we had about 20 family members and friends that went to support the team in Kentucky. When we have that kind of support, it makes all of us feel great about what we are doing and makes us want to try even harder. This group of kids has been fabulous to work with.”

Barron and Dane County dairy bowl teams also represented Wisconsin on the national level. After placing second and third respectively at the Wisconsin state contest last January, they earned the opportunity to compete at the World Dairy Expo 4-H Dairy Bowl Invitational held in Madison, Wis. on October 3, 2008.

Barron County finished in second place, while Dane tallied fourth at the contest. The Barron County team members included Kayla Solum, Angela Stellrecht, Johnny Schaffer and Isaac Solum. The team, consisting of Marquette Pacemakers 4-H club members, was coached by Chuck and Cathy Solum.

“Dairy bowl is a highlight for this club and a strong part of their club activities,” said 4-H Program Assistant with Barron County Extension, Bonnie Richter. “They are very focused and serious when it comes to dairy bowl competition, and they do a good job.”

Dane County”s team consisted of Abbey Wethal of Brooklyn, Katie Harn of Brooklyn, Laura Elliott of Marshall and Macy Sarbacker of Verona. The team was coached by Chad Wethal.

Minnesota”s team won the contest with Ohio finishing third. Only four teams competed at this year”s competition.

“Even though there were only four teams this year, it was a very worthwhile contest,” said Tony Seykora, contest coordinator. “The quiz bowl participants learn about the dairy industry, learn to think quickly on their feet, and learn teamwork. All are skills that will help them later in life as they pursue careers in the dairy industry.”

Dairy quiz bowl is both a knowledge competition and a speed competition. Team members need to know about the different breeds of cattle, nutrition, genetics, diseases, and herd management practices. They also need to know the answers quickly and be the first to ring their buzzer.

“Our success in 4-H dairy quiz bowl at the national contest level really speaks to the quality of our state”s overall program that includes both 4-H and breed association bowls,” stated Ted Halbach. “Credit really starts and ends with all the dedicated volunteer coaches who put in the time studying and mentoring the youth who participate.”

Halbach also feels Dairy Quiz Bowl in Wisconsin is growing in popularity as evidenced by participation numbers at both the State 4-H Contest and Wisconsin Junior Holstein event.

Wisconsin 4-H Foundation”s Dairy Endowment Fund sponsored the Wisconsin teams that advanced to national 4-H competitive events. For more information contact Ted Halbach at (608) 263-3305 or e-mail

Full size photo of the Richland County team here: First row left to right: Coach Dana Kepler, Coach Gloria Joseph, Krysty Kepler and Brad Solchenberger.  Second row left to right: Scott Eberle, Joshua Joseph and Tyler Moore

Full size photo of the Barron team here: left to right: Left to right: Kayla Solum, Angela Stellrecht, Johnny Schaffer and Isaac Solum