Farm Horizons, February 2003

Local man co-coordinates state dairy steer show

By Julie Yurek

How far off the ground does a steer feeder bunk need to be?

Dwayne Diers of Waverly knows the answer.

He knows the answers to many agricultural questions, especially ones pertaining to general livestock.

Diers co-coordinates the dairy steer show at the Minnesota State Fair, is a co-coordinator with his wife, Rande, of the state project bowl committee, and is a former coach for the Wright County Project Bowl general livestock team.

The dairy steer is a part of the beef subcommittee of the 4-H state fair livestock show committee, Diers said.

Co-coordinating the dairy steer show takes a lot of time. It requires attending about four meetings around the state each year to prepare for the state fair, he said.

Diers' primary job is to line up the judge and show ring workers.

Finding a good judge can take time, he said. One judge is needed to evaluate the animal, and another is needed to judge showmanship, Diers said.

"The evaluation judge is the hardest to find because he or she must be able to give reasons why he or she placed the animal where he or she did, and must be able to work with kids," Diers said.

The judges Diers has found are usually from out-of-state, such as Wisconsin or Iowa, he said. He did find a "really great one in south St. Paul," he said.

Diers hasn't kept count of how many years he's been with the dairy beef show, but he estimates it at more than 10 years, he said.

Though the volunteer work can take up much of his spare time at times, he enjoys it because "everyone needs an outlet from everyday life," he said.

Diers helps his brother farm full-time.

He also conducts an ethics and quality assurance training class for the Wright County 4-H organization. The class is a relatively new requirement from the 4-H state fair livestock committee, Diers said.

4-H participants must take the class before they may show at the state fair, he said. A 4-H'er must be entering seventh grade in order to be eligible to go to the state fair.

The club member must re-take the ethics and quality assurance class every three years. Since new members are entering seventh grade every year, Diers is kept busy.

Diers also has the Project Bowl to keep him and Rande occupied.

The Project Bowl is where members test their knowledge in certain categories, which include dog, poultry, rabbit, dairy, horses, and general livestock.

Diers stresses that winning isn't the most important aspect of the bowl, "it's to have fun, learn, and meet other 4-H members," he said. "Many still like to win though," he said with a chuckle.

Diers gave up coaching the general livestock category when he and Rande started coordinating the state level Project Bowl three years ago. He coached for many years.

He coached when his oldest daughter was in the bowl, and she is now 30 years old, he said.

Diers would go through the reference books that 4-H listed for each category and pick out information and questions to ask the members. "It took a lot of time to go through the material," he said.

There are two age divisions for members, juniors and seniors. Children in grades fourth through eighth are the juniors and ninth through 12th graders are seniors. Teams of four members vie against teams from other counties.

Kindergartners through third graders can participate in Bowling 101 where they are asked simpler questions about 4-H-related topics and also non-related topics.

Four-H groups can go to any one of the four regions in the state to participate in the Project Bowl. Three of the four regions have the same categories, but the fourth region is for the horse category only.

"There is such a big horse population in the state that the horse category was separated into one region of its own where that's all there is," Diers said.

The state Project Bowl has been at Buffalo the last few years, Diers said. The location can change, but it is hard to find a location big and cheap enough to use, he said.

Diers encourages the public to attend one of the four regions in March to observe their community's children. "It's fun to watch," he said.

The Wright County general livestock team will most likely go to the Alexandria region to compete, Diers said. "The kids have gone there before, so they'll get to meet up with friends from other counties," he said.

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