Quartet of Wisconsin youth among DJM semifinalists
Four Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association members are among a dozen outstanding members to be chosen as semifinalists for the 2020 Distinguished Junior Member (DJM) award.
Established in 1922, the Distinguished Junior Member recognition is the longest running Holstein youth program, according to Holstein Association USA. This award is the highest honor given to members of the National Junior Holstein Association, ages 17 to 21, in recognition of a commitment to the Holstein breed and involvement in a variety of agriculture related activities.
The 2020 DJM semifinalists from Wisconsin are: Mason Jauquet, Pulaski; Rachel McCullough, Juda; Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth and Colin Uecker, Watertown. They are joined by Todd Allen, Jefferson, Md.; Matthew Boop, Millmont, Pa.; Kristen Burkhardt, Fowlerville, Mich.; Connor Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; Morgan Hungerford, East Meredith, N.Y.; Yvonne Longenecker, Williamsburg, Pa.; Emily Mikel, Stafford, N.Y.; and Bailie Shultz, Seattle, Wash.
Applicants complete two judging phases. Phase one is the Junior's entry book, worth 60 % of the final score. The book highlights the Junior's Holstein work, activities and projects, breeding program and personal views. Phase two consists of the twelve semifinalists being interviewed by a committee of judges and accounts for 40 % of the final score.
The six individuals with the highest combined score are recognized as Distinguished Junior Members and receive annually renewed membership to Holstein Association USA.
This year, the 2020 DJM Finalists will be announced during a Facebook Live Event on the Holstein Association USA Facebook page, Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 12 noon Eastern time.
Jauquet grew up on the family farm Synergy Dairy near Pulaski. The 540 Registered Holstein operation is owned by his parents Jay and Heather Jauquet who are assisted by their children, Mason, Carter and Evan Jauquet.
"I've enjoyed growing up on a dairy farm which has provided a lot of opportunities for me - the friends I've made through showing dairy cattle in the Wisconsin Holstein Association, 4-H and FFA events," he said.
Jauquet will be entering UW-Green Bay this fall as a junior where he is pursuing a degree in business administration with a minor in Spanish and environmental policy and planning.
"I plan to work off the farm for a few years in an agriculture-related field before returning home and hopefully forming a partnership with my parents," he said.
Jauquet says his affiliation with the Wisconsin Jr. Holstein Association has given him a myriad of connections in the ag industry.
"It's exposed me to a lot of people I might never have met," he said. "I've also had the opportunity to learn new skills and grow my leadership and speaking abilities, as well as visit other dairy operations where I gained a unique perspective of the industry."
Nelson will be entering UW River Falls this fall for her senior year in her pursuit of a degree in agricultural business with a minor in dairy science.
The 21 year old daughter of Marc Nelson and Tracy Mitchell gained a passion for the industry "as soon as she could walk" growing up and helping out on her grandparent's 100-cow dairy and 3,800-acre crop farm Ter-Rae Farms Inc., near Ellsworth along with her three siblings, Paige, Mitchell and Levi.
"I currently raise dairy show heifers on our family's 8-acre hobby farm which I enjoy exhibiting at local, state and national shows where I have the opportunity to network with others," she said.
Nelson is getting a taste of the industry – albeit remotely – this summer as a crop insurance intern with Compeer Financial. Upon graduation, Nelson hopes to work in the field of agriculture financing.
"Being involved in the Jr. Holstein Association has given me so many different opportunities which have taught me so many life lessons," Nelson said.
Although Colin Uecker wasn't raised on a dairy farm, that didn't keep this Watertown youth from finding his path in the agriculture field via the help of his grandparents and mentors.
"I actually grew up in the city but became very active at a young age on my grandparents 150-cow dairy farm," he said. "As time went on, I began working at neighboring farms and began purchasing my own small herd of Registered Holstein dairy cattle. Today I buy, show and sell my cattle throughout the U.S."
The son of Bill and Michele Uecker and brother of older siblings Ben and Leah, Uecker is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is majoring in dairy science with a minor in ag business. At school is he is active in the Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and dairy judging team. The Jefferson County native was selected as the 2019 Wisconsin Holstein Association Outstanding Boy.
"My goal after graduation is to pursue a career in the dairy industry, whether its working in sales for a bull stud or working in genomic testing which will help producers capitalize and look towards future growth of their dairy cattle genetics," said Uecker who is performing an internship this summer with ST Genetics.
Uecker says his association with the Jr. Holstein Association has provided him with endless opportunities and has opened doors while providing connections and friendships with others in the ag industry across the U.S. and parts of Canada."
McCullough's firm foundation in the dairy industry was laid throughout her childhood and teen years spent growing up on her family's 50-cow Registered Holstein farm, Rock-N-Hill Holsteins near Juda.
McCullough is currently working on the home farm performing all of the daily expectations to help keep the farm running while learning new jobs. She has also been active in her local, state and national Junior Holstein Associations, showing and judging dairy cattle as well as participating in dairy bowl and serving in multiple leadership roles.
"The Jr. Holstein Association has allowed me to meet new people who also have an interest in the dairy industry. The organization has also allowed me to work with the Holstein cow more readily at shows, sales and when assisting with cattle photography," McCullough said. "Most of all, Junior Holsteins has help me to make my career choice of working with Registered Holsteins every day."
McCullough plans to continue working on the home farm with her parents, Chris and Kathie McCullough and brother, Mac, perfecting her cattle reproduction skills and breeding better cattle to show.
The National Junior Holstein Association is an organization for youth under the age of 21, with over 8,000 active members in 48 states. For more information about the DJM contest or other Holstein youth programs, visit www.holsteinusa.com/juniors.