MADISON, Wisc. – Four Faulkner County 4-H members, their coach and 4-H county extension agent, were among the competitors in the 91st annual National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, part of the World Dairy Expo.

All four team members, Travis Clark, Jansen Riddle, Christina Monday and Taylor McNeel, are involved in individual 4-H Livestock projects, specifically the Dairy Science project. The four traveled with coach Gina Riddle and Leigh Helms, Faulkner County Extension Agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

"It was an honor to represent Arkansas and Faulkner County, along with following in my dad’s footsteps, by competing in the National contest," said team member Jansen Riddle. "Our team members supported each other and worked hard to improve our skills and it was a neat feeling to compete at that level as a close team."

Participants were required to evaluate 10 classes of dairy cows and to provide reasons and defense on their placing of five of the selected classes.

The contest, held in coordination with the world’s largest dairy-focused event – World Dairy Expo- represented 32 teams from across the nation, and also Canada and South America.

World Dairy Expo officials anticipated over 65,000 producers and industry professionals gathering from more than 90 countries. Attendees experience innovative new industry concepts at Expo Seminars, Virtual Farm Tours, dairy cattle competition, dairy company displays and numerous contests. The 2012 theme, "Market Fresh," exemplifies the show mantra of sharing fresh ideas for the future success of the dairy industry around the globe.

"The National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest and World Dairy Expo provides an opportunity for our local youth to network with young adults and industry experts and connects them to future career opportunities, employers, and friends from around the globe," Helms said. "Although the judging competition is the main purpose of the trip, the educational networking and overall experience is the real ‘cream’ of the trip.

"Beyond the amazing livestock exhibited at the Expo, it’s an amazing experience regardless if the youth is interested in being a farm owner, nutritionist, agronomist, researcher, marketing and public relations representative, or even a politician," she said. "The judging and Expo experience truly connects our youth to the world and future career opportunities." The team practiced and studied together over the past year, including weekly practices and on-site farm visits to evaluate cattle.

"Being a part of a judging team goes beyond placing livestock," Helms said. "Judging allows youth to work together as a team and teaches them to make objective decisions based on their reasoning and critical thinking. Youth then apply these skills to various aspects of life, including making purchasing decisions like buying a car, selecting a career path, and even decisions regarding their everyday relationships."

The team would like to thank several who made this year’s judging experience a reality: Gina Riddle, the Faulkner County 4-H Foundation, Hawk Pond Jerseys, Rich and Theresa Townsend, Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association, Southwest Dairy Farmers, Simon Dairy, ABS Global, Accelerated Genetics, American Guernsey Association, American Jersey Cattle Association, American Livestock Insurance Company, Inc., Ayrshire Breeders’ Association, Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association, CRV USA, E-Zee Milking Equipment, LLC, Hoard’s Dairyman, Holstein Association USA, International Protein Sires, Lakeshore Federated Dairy Cooperative, Land of Living, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Maryland Brown Swiss Association, Merrick Animal Nutrition, Inc., Mrs. Judy Majeskie, Nasco, National Dairy Shrine, Pfizer Animal Health, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, Select Sires, Inc., Sexing Technologies, The Hartford Livestock Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Science Dickson Fund, Westway Feed Products, LLC and World Dairy Expo.

The 2013 county 4-H Judging Teams will re-organize beginning in January. For more information on the Faulkner County 4-H Program and judging team opportunities, contact the County Extension Office at 501-329-8344.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.