Burlington--For the 13 Vermont 4-H dairy members selected to attend the National 4-H Dairy Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, it was a whirlwind week of educational seminars, visits to farms and agribusinesses and other fun activities.

The Sept. 29-Oct. 2 conference, held on the University of Wisconsin campus, took place in conjunction with the World Dairy Exposition, an international dairy cattle show and industry trade show. More than 200 youths, ages 15-18, from throughout the U.S. and Canada attended this year. 

Vermont 4-H'ers who participated were Katelin Blake, Sutton; Ben Boutin, Williston; Averie Brown, East Montpelier; Molly Callan and Cassidy Dunphy, both from Enosburg Falls; Hannah Dolloff, Springfield; Amanda Ferris, Braintree; Emily Frazier, Berlin; Alissa Hill, Underhill; Karissa Livingston, New Haven; Abigail Reen, Lincoln; Rose Tarbell, Middletown Springs; and Keenan Thygesen, Tunbridge. Chaperones were Brian and Cindy Kayhart, Vergennes, and Sara Kirby, East Montpelier.

The youths each earned a spot on the delegation through their participation in local and state University of Vermont Extension (UVM) 4-H dairy events, outstanding dairy project record books and overall excellence in the 4-H dairy project. Eligibility also was based on age and required three years or more enrollment in the dairy project.

Conference delegates had the opportunity to learn from dairy industry experts, biotechnology leaders and university professors at a number of interactive seminars. Topics ranged from farm finances, dairy herd mating strategies, artificial insemination and genomics to marketing dairy products, the science behind dairy foods, goat and sheep milk production and becoming an advocate for the dairy industry, among others.

The 4-H'ers toured several agricultural enterprises in southern Wisconsin including ABS Global, Hoard's Dairyman Magazine and its registered Guernsey farm, the National Dairy Shrine Museum and Nasco International. Crave Brothers Farm and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wisconsin, hosted the group for a farm tour, tailgate party, career fair and barn dance.

The conference included an afternoon at the World Dairy Expo although the Vermont delegation arranged to stay a few days longer to spend additional time at the expo to visit the vendors, watch the dairy show competitions and participate in a youth dairy showmanship competition, showing animals borrowed from Vermont farms competing at the expo.

Funding for the trip was provided in part by the State 4-H Foundation, the Vermont Dairy Industry Association and several businesses and private donors. To learn more about this and other 4-H dairy events, contact Wendy Sorrell, UVM Extension 4-H livestock educator, at wendy.sorrell@uvm.edu.


Wendy M. Sorrell