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When I think of my time at UWRF, a lot of things come to mind. The long hours of studying in the Ag lounge, the many exams that were preceded by all-nighters, the countless hours spent working on Dairy Club projects, just to name a few. But one of my favorite highlights from my time at UWRF and CAFES is definitely dairy judging!

Dr. Kelm would spend hours each fall working with promising young dairy enthusiasts, honing their keen eyes for dairy cattle. Weekly (and on the weekends) we would travel across the upper Midwest, stopping at some of the top genetic herds of all dairy breeds, tweaking our judging ability. But of course, you couldn’t walk the walk if you didn’t talk the talk. I’m sure many of Dr. Kelm’s students will attest to the fact that we spend HOURS talking to the walls of CAFES as we memorized and prepared our oral reasons, often times moaning and groaning about having to do them…but yet we did them… and did it pay off!

Traveling to national contests each fall was the true highlight of the judging season. All the students that would come out for dairy judging would be anxiously waiting to hear the ‘announcement’ of who made the team and would represent UWRF on the national stage. Myself, along with my three other teammates, Alexander Cooper, Daniel Lauderdale and Charlotte Muenzenberger, got the nod to travel to the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY the fall of 2005 as part of the UWRF Dairy Judging Team. Making the trek more then 12+ hours in a van with four college students? I think that Dr. Kelm should receive sainthood for this feat! To say that we were a little difficult to travel with, would be an understatement…but needless to say we all made it their – and in one piece!

The day of the contests dawned and we all anxiously awaited digging into the contest, which included 10 classes and five sets of reasons. Working through the classes, we met up after a long day of judging. Comparing our notes – we weren’t sure what to think. We didn’t have an officials yet (they were to come at the awards breakfast the next day). We decided to just enjoy the evening in KY and see what would come tomorrow at the awards.

Waiting for results has to be one of the most tedious processes. Ask anyone that was involved with collegiate judging – not knowing and the wait for results is the worst. Everyone is politely enjoying breakfast and listing to the speakers on the agenda – all secretly willing them to go faster so that you can get to what matters – the results! One by one, each of the breed individuals and team winners are announced and we are sitting on pins and needles trying to figure out what our total score is. We get to the top two teams – UWRF and Penn State. We know that it is neck and neck – and they announce the winning team is….. UWRF by ONE point! We did it! All those countless hours of practice paid off… we were number one! Getting the chance to be top in the nation – was awesome.

My experiences on the UWRF Dairy Judging Team were just one of my many memories that I take away from my time at UWRF. The countless life skills, wonderful education and of course, friends of a lifetime, are more then I could have hoped for! Thanks UWRF and CAFES and congratulations on 100 years!

– Submitted by Leah Johnson (Class of 2007)

Leah Johnson - UWRF Dairy Judging
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