Among the six Distinguished Junior Member finalists recognized at the 2014 National Holstein Convention last week were two Wisconsin young people – Cassandra Krull of Lake Mills and Ryan Pralle, Humbird.
The Distinguished Junior Member recognition is the highest honor a Junior Holstein Association member can receive.
Holstein Association USA named the finalists on June 28 during its national convention in Dubuque. The six were chosen from a group of 12 semifinalists who were interviewed during the National Junior Holstein convention.
Wisconsin sent four honorees who made it to the group of semifinalists. In addition to Pralle and Krull those young dairy leaders included Carrie Warmka, 20, the daughter of Russ and Laura Warmka, who operate a 300-cow registered Holstein dairy at Fox Lake. She is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying dairy science.
Another Wisconsin native in the semifinalist group was Nicholas Schuster, son of Ivan and Mary Schuster of Fond du Lac. When his family dispersed their herd in 2006 for health reasons, it was an “eye-opening experience” for the young man.
He then embarked on a plan to get back into the dairy business by purchasing registered Holstein cattle and working on another farm until he can update his family’s barn and milk his own cows there.
Schuster, 20, is a graduate of the UW-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course
Pralle is the son of Pam and Scott Selz-Pralle. The family operates a 400-cow registered Holstein dairy near Humbird in Clark County. Their farm has been the home of registered Holsteins for more than 100 years and has been in the family for 125 years.
Ryan is a dairy science major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and shares his love of dairy as a member of the Badger Dairy Club and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.
In February he represented the UW-Madison at the North American Midwest Dairy Challenge contest and last year was vice chair of the Wisconsin Holstein Junior Activities Committee.
He had worked as an undergraduate research assistant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Feed Efficiency Project, looking at gene expression in cows with fatty liver syndrome.
Now, as a soon-to-be senior at the university, Pralle is at work on his own independent research project under the supervisions of Dr. Heather White. He is studying the genetic predisposition to metabolic disorders in fresh cows.
“I’ve always been interested in molecular chemistry and physiology and Dr. White shares those interests. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Pralle said he was “honored, overjoyed and extremely grateful” for the chance to receive the distinguished Holstein honor.
But he was a little sad too that his grandfather John Selz was unable to be around for the high honor. Selz, who Ryan credits as his mentor, died in October of 2013.
“He was an inspiration and profound success in his personal and professional life and was still the humblest of men,” said his grandson. Ryan revered and respected his grandfather and credits him with helping him to become the Holstein breeder and industry leader he has become.
“He was always the one who helped me realize what I could become and pushed me to pursue my interest in science and get involved in the dairy industry – specifically the Holstein industry.
“I knew he would be proud.”
Ryan said he is interested in pursuing a career in academia and mentions an interest in consulting and helping farmers increase the efficiency of their dairy herds.
He is a graduate of Osseo-Fairchild High School.
Pralle looks forward to a career in dairy research and innovating more profitable cattle for the dairy industry.
Krull, who already has a distinguished career as a junior, is the daughter of Cindy Krull and the late Brian Krull who was killed in an electrical accident at their farm in 2010.
Cindy continues to operate the family’s farm, with its 50-cow herd of registered Holsteins, Jerseys and Red and White cattle as well as operate 800 acres of land with the help of two full-time employees and her three children.
Cassy, who just turned 21, is a student at UW-Platteville, majoring in animal science with a dairy and agribusiness emphasis and a minor in international studies. She has been active in the campus dairy club, helping to chair the Pioneer Dairy Classic sale
She has received many honors in her young dairy career including the Merle Howard award at the 2013 World Dairy Expo. That award is given annually at World Dairy Expo to recognize the top junior exhibitor who demonstrates exemplary skills in fitting , showmanship and overall passion for the dairy industry.
The Expo award recognized her as a triple threat among dairy exhibitors since she is equally well known in Jersey, Holstein and Red and White circles.
She is known as a gifted showman and fitter of dairy cattle, having won Supreme Champion Showmanship honors at her county fair. She has also placed among the top five in showmanship competitions at World Dairy Expo, the Wisconsin State Fair and was named Supreme Champion Showman at the Southern National show.
She was named the Distinguished Younger Junior Member by Holstein Association USA in 2010 and in 2011-12 she served as National Jersey Queen. Last year she was named the 58th National Jersey Youth Achievement Award winner.
Krull has served on youth activity committees for Jersey and Holstein associations and was employed as a summer intern for the Red and White Dairy Cattle Association. She also worked with Ron and Christy Ratliff’s Jersey herd in Garnett, KS in 2011 and 2012.
There, she had the experience of working with their herd of registered Jerseys and also the beef cattle operation that family had.
This summer, she is working as an intern at Accelerated Genetics in Baraboo in the marketing and communications department.
She fits and prepares her own animals for each show and owns 15 head of cattle of her own in three breeds and shares ownership of even more.
The Krull family has added a specialized heifer barn at their farm near Lake Mills that has allowed Cassy and her family to develop and grow the herd through embryo transfers and in-vitro fertilization.
The Krulls are known for breeding Krull Broker Elegance, the only cow to have a progeny groups win the coveted “Premier Breeder” banner four times at World Dairy Expo.
In the past few years the young dairy woman has purchased some deep-pedigreed Jerseys and developed her own prefix – Shining Star Dairy Cattle.
Cassy said the Distinguished Junior Holstein honor was “something I’ve wanted ever since I went to my first Holstein Convention. I looked up to those who won that award. They were my role models.”
Her late father was very active in the dairy industry and she knew that was something she wanted to emulate and become part of the dairy industry in her own right.
She had Holsteins “her whole life” and got her first Jersey at the age of three from Santa Claus. “My parents pushed that we have diversity in our cattle.”
Krull was the first to hear her name called at the ceremony in Dubuque and it was a surprise but was also “pretty neat.”
It would have been an even more perfect moment for her, she said, if her father could have been there, and her brother who had to work. But the rest of her support team was on hand to cheer her on.
“It was a really cool experience.”
The Distinguished Junior Member award honors Junior Holstein members, ages 17 to 21, who have excelled in their junior project work, involvement on their farm, and in their communities.
Established in 1922, this contest is the longest running Holstein youth program, and is the highest honor that can be given to a Junior Holstein member.
Each state, based on their National Junior Membership, may nominate up to four youth to compete in the National contest. Contestants prepare entry books summarizing their Junior Holstein activities and provide their views on current industry topics.