When we talk about being fully transparent and discussing concerns we have as an agricultural company, we have to address the topic of “the next generation.” Who’s going to take over the family farm? The ag education? The A.I. company? Thankfully, there’s a strong movement in All West of people taking on the task of building the next generation. Here are just two examples of groups of people that are working extremely hard to make sure juniors are encouraged, engaged and ready for the future.
All West had the chance to visit with Lauren Evangelo of Hanford, CA and Liz Holtcamp of Sedro-Woolley, WA. These dynamic ladies are integral parts of groups that are investing in the next generation. They, along with committee members, and countless volunteers, are truly making a difference. Here are their stories.
Event – Western Classic Junior Dairy Show, Hanford, CA, March 5-6, 2016
Contact person – Lauren Evangelo
Event – Springtime Youth Calf Sale, Monroe, WA, March 19, 2016
Contact person – Liz Holtcamp
All West – How did your event begin? Whose idea was it? How has it been received?
Lauren Evangelo: The Western Classic Junior Dairy Show began in 2012 and has been held annually every year since at the fairgrounds in Hanford, CA. It is a junior-only show allowing youth ages 5-21 participate. In late 2011, due to tough economic times and decreased funding, the Great Western Livestock Show in Tulare, CA was cancelled. Great Western included a junior dairy cattle show at the Tulare Fairgrounds the first weekend in March for many years. It was an awesome event that hosted young dairy exhibitors from up and down the state of California. The show gave many youth their first opportunity of the year to showcase their prized Registered and Grade dairy females. It also hosted the first dairy cattle judging contest of the year which was open to 4-H, FFA, and college participants. It served as a great event to prepare juniors for a year filled with shows, county fairs, and field days. Not wanting to sit back and witness another event for juniors be cut back or lost, the South San Joaquin Holstein Club decided to establish a similar event so that juniors could continue to enjoy the same opportunities that many of its members enjoyed growing up. I guess you could say that Greg Silva, my husband Matthew & I, Anthony Souza and Joey Airoso, along with the help of other SSJHA Holstein members, is the reason there is a show today.
The show has continued to grow and gain popularity throughout the entire state of California since its beginning in 2012. We just finished the 5th Annual Western Classic on March 5th and 6th. The number of cattle and exhibitors has nearly doubled since we started the show five years ago. This year a total of 308 head of cattle were exhibited with divisions including Registered & Grade Holsteins and Registered and Grade AOB (All other breeds). We had nearly 190 exhibitors with 169 exhibiting in Showmanship and 138 Judging Contest Participants in the judging contest on Saturday morning. I would say it’s safe to assume that the event has been well received!
Liz Holtcamp: The Springtime Youth Calf Sale began back in 1994. I got the idea after working with some other clubs in the area and noticing that kids didn’t have quality animals, and that they were using off-aged heifers, and were asking for help to purchase a project heifer. There was a definite need for help! Another reason for the sale was that I grew up showing registered Brown Swiss, but my first 4-H project was an Ayrshire…who didn’t leave me any heifers! When I finally had money saved up to buy my own Brown Swiss, I didn’t have any sale to attend that was youth-based. I had written letters to several breeders asking what was available in my price range. That was part of the reason why I started the sale.
I had a partner at the time and we decided to use our connections with breeders in the state to find those quality animals that were either the right age to show and/or were of the “hard to find” breeds.
The very first sale was held at a local auction yard on a Sunday. Despite the weather, location and it being a Sunday, we had a great turnout! From there the sale took off! Two years later it was moved to Carnation Farms where it was paired up with their judging contest. After Carnation Farms sold their cows we moved it to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. It is a juniors-only sale where the kids are the only ones who can bid and there is a certain age range.
After the second year, we noticed that some kids were still unable to buy, so we started a calf grant program, which consists of juniors filling out an application and then completing an interview with a panel of judges. The first year the program awarded $250 grants to purchase a calf at the sale. A few years later, we raised the scholarship level to $500 as the prices and quality of animals increased. To date, we provide up to eight calf grants and several companies are eager to donate every year to the program including All West/Select Sires. We also have $500 college scholarships that are provided to youth who have purchased a heifer, consigned a heifer to the sale or who have helped out significantly with the sale. In addition, every heifer is sent home with a bag of grain from EPL Feed, Inc.
We felt this program was a great way to allow companies to participate directly with juniors, and I relied on my previous employers and personal connections to get as many people, as possible, involved. When the sale series started, I was working for Land O’Lakes in Seattle. I had asked them to provide a sack of grain to go home with every heifer. Land O’Lakes became involved because we noticed that kids weren’t aware of a quality feeding program. For example, because this was their first exposure to show heifers, many kids and parents didn’t know that a short-aged November heifer wasn’t necessarily going to compete as well as a September 1st heifer in her age group. They just didn’t understand that the older heifer had almost a 3-month head start. By involving Land O’Lakes, we not only got sponsorship dollars, but provided more education for the kids.
All West – This program awards opportunities to many kids who might not have the chance otherwise to be involved in the dairy industry. Why is that important?
Evangelo: This show is truly about the kids and giving every kid a chance to be involved in our industry. This is why we have included a grade component to our show and believe it is important to have. Many kids in our state only get the opportunity to exhibit at their county fair every year, if that. This event allows everyone an opportunity to “go to the next level” and meet dairy enthusiasts from around the state. Whether they show, participate in the judging contest or just come and mingle with friends for the weekend, it is rewarding to see how the exhibitors interact with each other.
Holtcamp: Now a days many of the kids who buy from the sale aren’t from a dairy farm. We have many consignors who are asking to have the first option to buy back their heifer. This gives the kids a chance to show the heifer for two years and then sell back to original owner because they have no place to milk her. Some kids have made arrangements with local dairy producers. That is one of the main reasons why we only offer fall and winter aged heifers.
I also feel that any youth, and their parents who get involved, through 4-H are advocates for the dairy industry. Many of these youth have gone on to become nutritionists in the school, vet students, ag teachers, lawyers and many other exciting career choices, but they will remember how much fun it was becoming involved in their dairy projects.
All West – Have you encouraged/helped a junior member who’s gone on to become really involved in a bigger level across the state?
Evangelo: There are many success stories from this event. This show has become a stepping stone for many. Whether it is taking their cattle on to the next level (i.e. State Show or State Fair) or improving their cattle feeding programs or showmanship skills to be more competitive, it has been fun to see the changes in exhibitors over the past five years of the show. One of my favorite stories from this year’s show can be summarized perfectly by a thank you note we recently received from an exhibitor:
Holtcamp: I think that every heifer sold to a youth is a success story, but it is really special to have the ones who have bought from the sale and years later, give back by consigning one of their own! Several kids have started their own foundation herds with registered cattle even though their family milks grade cattle. Some kids have done well in the show ring at the National Shows in Washington and Oregon. Other kids have ventured out with a different breed from their parents.
All West – Future plans – will this program continue? Future dates? How can people get involved?
Evangelo: The plans for the 6th Annual Western Classic have already begun! Show dates for 2017 are March 4-5th. We are already looking into additional panels and barn space to accommodate our growing cattle numbers. This show would not be possible without a number of volunteers that spend countless hours helping everything come together and for all of our sponsors. The show is privately funded, so we are very grateful of all the business throughout the state that have stepped up to help make this show a reality. We welcome anyone that would like to help either by donating their time or providing funds to help make this show continued to be possible!
Holtcamp: I hope that with all of the volunteers and sponsors that we can still keep this sale going. It amazes me that every year we get a new batch of kids who are looking to buy that special heifer. We have offered some outstanding pedigreed heifers to become the start of a foundation herd and quality show heifers. The sale is always held on the 3rd Saturday in March at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe. The sale is based on many volunteers – from hauling, fitting, chores to auctioneering! We are always looking for more volunteers, but you can also donate supplies or to the calf grant program.
All West – What’s the one thing you want others to know about this program that would either inspire them or kick them into action to do something similar in their state?
Evangelo: The positive response we receive from all of the exhibitors, parents, leaders and people in our community is humbling and rewarding. In an industry that is often filled with negative talk, this show is an excellent reminder that our future is bright! Providing these kids with this opportunity is priceless!
Holtcamp: This sale is unique in that it offers many youth who didn’t grow up on a dairy farm an opportunity to get involved with a dairy project. These youth may have extra acreage in which to raise their animals or work out a deal with a neighbor or even a local dairyman. In every case, it not only teaches the kids how to raise a show heifer, but how to create a plan for housing, feed, etc…
Both tremendous programs have Facebook pages that you can visit to get more information and see WAY more pictures than we have posted here. (See Western Classic Dairy Show and Springtime Youth Calf Sale)
Thank you to Lauren, Liz and the other members of their committees who are investing in the future of our dairy industry!