Dodge County”s Senior dairy bowl team topped the State 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest Feb. 7 at Portage High School. Their senior division team will represent Wisconsin this November at the national contest in Louisville, Ky. Richland County earned top honors as the winning mixed division team and Manitowoc finished first in the junior division.
The competition tested the quick wit and extensive knowledge of over 270 4-H members on 47 county teams who participate in the dairy project. This was the largest 4-H dairy bowl contest since its inception in the 1980”s. Contestants answered questions about dairy cattle genetics, health, nutrition, showing and other topics. Four-person teams traveled from all corners of the state to represent their counties in the three divisions.
“Every year I am amazed by the enthusiasm that dairy bowl generates as evidenced by the numbers participating at both this contest and the breed association competitions,” said Ted Halbach, UW-Madison Farm & Industry Short Course director. “Kids have so many options today but the fact this many of them made the choice to play dairy bowl and all the study that goes with it says a lot about their passion for dairy industry. I”d say it speaks well for the future.”
Teams from 16 counties vied for first place in the junior division, where teams are comprised of members under 14 years of age. The Manitowoc County team went undefeated and topped Grant County in the final round. Manitowoc County team members included Zach Lensmire, Crystal Siemers-Peterman, Jordan Siemers, Josh Siemers, Jake Siemers. The team was coached by Jeff Neuser and Brenda Meyer.
“We have dedicated a lot of time to studying this year, and all of the hours of practicing paid off in the end,” said Coach Jeff Neuser. “Our junior dairy bowlers are a young team, Jordan and Crystal have competed for several years, and this is Jake, Josh, and Zach second year competing on this team. All of the youth from Manitowoc County are extremely excited about our win and this is our fuel for the upcoming years.”
Fifteen counties competed in the mixed division where teams have a combination of both junior and senior members. Undefeated Richland County beat out runner-up Jefferson County in the final round to take home top honors. Coached by Dana Kepler, the Richland County team included Cody Jump, Jeremy Moore, Sierra Lurvey and Julie Eberle.
“The team was very excited to win. I don”t stress the point of winning, rather, I like to have the kids practice, learn and enjoy the day and be great sportsman if they win or lose. It is a great accomplishment for any team to win,” said Coach Dana Kepler. “All of the kids on this team have been in 4-H dairy bowl for several years and I feel that working together as a team has made them strong.”
Sixteen senior teams competed that were made up of youth between the ages of 14 and 19. With their first loss to Vernon County in the semi-finals, Dodge County went on to face Vernon again in the final round and went on to win the senior championship in a winner take-all match. The Dodge County team consisted of Kyle Natzke, Frank Behling, Brad Warmka and Carrie Warmka and was coached by Laurie Koneck and Chuck Crave.
“We were really excited because these 4-Hers were so fun to work with and their enthusiasm for studying the resource materials was contagious,” said Coach Laurie Koneck. “The younger team members also learned from the senior team practice sessions. We”re proud of the team”s success and I”m looking forward to helping them prepare for the national contest this fall.”
The UW-Madison Department of Dairy Science Chair Dr. Ric Grummer addressed the dairy bowl attendee”s on the stepping down of event coordinator and Extension Youth Specialist Ted Halbach. Halbach has replaced Dr. Richard Daluge as the new Director of UW-Madison”s Farm and Industry Short Course. Grummer announced that applications for the Extension Youth Specialist position are being accepted until March 1.
“It”s been rewarding to see this competition grow over the last 10 years from about 20 teams to the 47 we had this year,” stated Halbach. “My role has been that of a facilitator, the real credit needs to go to the grass root county coaches who eagerly mentor and teach these youth about the industry, often after long and tiring days farming. In my tenure as the extension dairy youth specialist, I don”t really have the words to convey what a privilege it”s been to work with the great volunteers and youth we have in our state”s dairy industry.”
UW-Madison Department of Dairy Science faculty, Badger Dairy Club members and UW dairy science alumni helped with moderating, judging and operating the contest.
The Wisconsin 4-H Dairy Endowment Fund, the UW-Madison Department of Dairy Science, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese and the Badger Dairy Club co-sponsored the event.