Two state girls honored for dairy cattle showmanship, sportsmanship
Two young women with a strong interest in dairy cattle showing were honored last weekend at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis during the Dairyland Youth Celebration.
Jessica Pralle, of Humbird, won the Great Northern Cup Award, which is given to a Junior Holstein exhibitor who excels in good sportsmanship, leadership, cooperation with officials and fellow exhibitors. The award is also given based on showmanship ability, fitting and training of dairy animals, overall care of the animals and courtesy shown to the public and the judge.
Kaila Wussow, of Cecil, earned the George Barlass Herdsman Award, given each year at Wisconsin State Fair to a junior exhibitor of colored breed dairy cattle who displays outstanding sportsmanship, knowledge of the dairy industry and showmanship ability.
Pralle, the daughter of Scott and Pam-Selz Pralle, will major in dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she begins this fall as a freshman.
The pursuit of a dairy career is something she's dreamed of since she was a very little girl, struggling to carry buckets of milk as she helped her parents feed calves.
"When chores were done I'd go back and sit in the barn and talk to my favorite cow. It was just something I have loved since a very early age," she told Wisconsin State Farmer.
A graduate of Osseo-Fairchild High School, she has been active in FFA, 4-H and the Junior Holstein Association and has been very involved with Ag in the Classroom activities.
She grew up watching her dad show cattle and says she always knew that was something she'd want to do. She began in "little britches" showing and when she got involved in 4-H and FFA it only heightened her interest.
"I remember waving to my parents as a little kid from the show ring and the whole experience just made me want to show more."
Becoming part of the Junior Holstein Association allowed her to share that passion with younger kids, both on the family's farm and in local cattle fitting and showing clinics that she organized.
Pralle is now getting ready for the Clark County Fair and is helping a young exhibitor who doesn't live on a farm learn how to show several dairy heifers from her family's herd.
Animal care has always been an integral part of her life, growing from those early experiences feeding calves. Today she manages the farm's maternity and calf barns, which are separate from the farm where the family houses their 450 registered Holstein milking herd.
During the show season Pralle is also kept busy with the family's show string and does all the cattle fitting as she travels with her family to shows around the area and to World Dairy Expo.
She has been the go-to person for getting her entire county's string ready at State Fair, clipping and doing all the toplines for her co-exhibitors. She's now in the process of training others to help with that work, since she can now see to the end of her junior exhibitor career.
When she enters UW-Madison to study dairy science, Pralle plans to focus on dairy nutrition with a pre-vet focus. She will join older brother Ryan at UW-Madison. He is majoring in dairy science and genetics.
"He has been a great role model for me. I hope he doesn't mind me following him to college there."
Pralle said she has always dreamed of being part of her family's farming operation and may one day make a career there. "This was a wonderful place to grow up. I had a tremendous opportunity to develop valuable life skills and understand the importance of hard work. And it was lots of fun."
Now that State Fair is over she's getting 12 of her family's animals ready for the Clark County Fair, which begins this week.
The Great Northern Cup Award is sponsored by Great Northern Land and Cattle Company, Inc. in Fond du Lac.
Wussow began showing in "pee-wee" classes at her county fair. While sometimes she showed Holsteins from her family's herd, she often showed Jerseys - something her parents got specifically for her to show.
"They wanted something just for me that I could pick out of their Holstein herd."
Today the family has 150 cows and about half of them are Jersey - many owned by Kaila and her younger brother Colin.
She has grown her own herd from that first Jersey her parents purchased for her. The granddaughter of that animal was Reserve Supreme Champion at the Junior Show at the Wisconsin State Fair last week. She was also the best bred-and-owned animal.
Wussow, 17, is a junior at Bonduel High School, and is the daughter of Ron and Nicolle Wussow.
Their Cecil-area farm is one that has been in her mother's family for generations. Her grandparents also live on the farm and were on-hand in West Allis to see her win the prestigious award last weekend.
"I didn't know I was winning this award and I was on barn duty. People kept telling me to go and clean up and I didn't know why," she said by telephone.
At a very young age she got involved in 4-H, FFA and the Junior Jersey Association and her involvement and that of her brother has grown the family herd's colored contingent.
When she filled out her project paperwork for FFA she counted 30 Jersey cows and heifers among the animals she owns - some of them in partnership with her brother.
One of the animals she purchased to help grow her herd came from the "Pot O'Gold" sale at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, KY. Purchased animals, she explained, are judged on their milk production three years after they are taken home from the sale.
She won that production contest with her entry in 2011.
Wussow is active in high school sports and clubs, and about the time she's getting ready to go back to school she will also be going to her county fair on Labor Day weekend where she plans to take a small show string.
"The Wisconsin State Fair is my first show of the year," she said.
Though her dad is always busy at that time of year with a custom harvesting business, making the labor tight for the farm and the show, she plans to take three animals to the fair.