Farm Horizons, May 2007
Lester Prairie junior places first in national 4-H dairy judging
McLeod County 4-H Federation President Karen Anderson, a junior at Lester Prairie High School, lives with her parents, David and Donna Anderson, on their farm, “Up the Creek,” where they raise Guernsey dairy cows.
Anderson has been around animals all of her life, raising calves and showing cows at county and state fairs.
Her favorite animal is her own 4-year-old cow, Kookie, that she has raised from a calf.
“I like to show Kookie. She has been quite the individual. She has done really well for me the last two years,” Anderson said.
Anderson has been a member of 4-H for eight years, but was involved with it as far back as she can remember.
Although 4-H activities have now taken second place to basketball practice and games, and other school activities, Anderson has not forgotten her very recent achievement in 4-H dairy judging at the national contest in Harrisburg, Penn. last fall.
4-H dairy judging has been an interest of hers since she first began 4-H activities, and that was before she was old enough to participate.
She looked up to other 4-H members who were already judging dairy, but she needed to wait until she was in sixth grade to join.
“I have always been interested in judging. I love working with animals. This was another area I could learn about besides raising them and showing them, I was able to judge them and learn more about them,” Anderson said.
Beginning in July of last year, Anderson and other 4-H members began working with volunteer 4-H coaches Barry and Shannon Visser, and Trudy Lickfelt from Hutchinson.
Every week, they would meet and be put in teams, sometimes according to age or by grade, but no one would get left out. The coaches would bring four animals out to be judged. Everybody practiced grading the different cattle, giving them a one, two, three, or four based on their characteristics.
Some of the characteristics the students were taught to look for were frame, dairy character and form, body capacity, feet and legs, udder and mammary system.
As the students practiced, the coaches were also judging the cattle, then would evaluate how well the students did individually and as a team.
Teams were sent to smaller county contests as a learning tool. From there, the coaches would pick the students scoring the best individually and send them to the state dairy judging contest.
The coaches selected Anderson, along with Brittany Albrecht of Hutchinson, Amanda Mohr of Glencoe, and Elizabeth Olsen of Hutchinson, as the McLeod County 4-H dairy judging team sent to state. The girls made a good showing, placing second at the state level.
Because they did so well, the coaches then decided to send the team to the national 4-H contest in Harrisburg.
The coaches who trained the girls were not able to attend the national contest, but Jill Grams, McLeod County 4-H program coordinator from Hutchinson, went with the girls and kept the girls’ morale up and spirits bright, cheering them on to a fourth place win out of 15 teams. The McLeod County team was made up of sophomores and juniors and was the youngest team there.
In addition to their team placing fourth at nationals, Anderson received second place in verbal reasons, and first place for the highest individual score.
When Anderson is not judging dairy, she keeps very busy being involved in many activities. In addition to basketball, she plays softball for Lester Prairie High School.
She is also a member of FFA and participates in the 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl.
Anderson would like to attend the University of Minnesota next year, after she graduates from high school, and animals are very much in her future plans. She is thinking of becoming a vet or will get a degree in animal science, with a dairy emphasis.