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Wisconsin Jr Holstein members honored at national level

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Colton Brandel, right, and his sister, Ashley Brandel, were among the Young Distinguished Junior Members that went on to compete on the national level with follow Wisconsin delegates, Ava Endres and Jacob Harbaugh.

Mason Jauquet, Colton Brandel and Jacob Harbaugh are among the top Junior Holstein Association members in the country.

The three Wisconsin youth were recognized during a Facebook Live event on July 1, as the finalists for the 2020 National Distinguished Junior Members and National Young Distinguished Members were revealed.

Jauquet of Pulaski was among four Wisconsin youth contending among a dozen semi-finalists for one of six coveted finalist positions for the DJM award, the highest honor presented 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 finalists for this year's Distinguished Junior Member competition are Jauquet; Todd Allen, Jefferson, Md.; Matthew Boop, Millmont, Pa.; Kristen Burkhardt, Fowlerville, Mich.; Connor Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; and Emily Mikel, Stafford, N.Y.

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.

Mason Jauquet

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."

Other Wisconsin youth competing on the national level for DJM honors included Rachel McCullough, Juda; Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth and Colin Uecker, Watertown.

Young Distinguished Jr. Members

While Colton Brandel and Jacob Harbaugh live over 130 miles apart, the two Wisconsin youth have much in common: a passion for Holsteins and a commitment to taking advantage of every opportunity that the Junior Holstein Association has to offer.

Brandel of Lake Mills and Harbaugh of Marion, were among eight young people selected as finalists in the 2020 Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) contest. YDJM applicants are judged on similar criteria as the Distinguished Junior Member contest, but do not complete the interview phase. Junior members ages 9 to 16 are eligible to apply for the YDJM recognition.

Joining Brandel and Harbaugh in the winner's circle were Rachel Craun, Mount Crawford, Vir.; Nevin Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; Natalie Fredericks, Little Falls, N.Y.; Jacob Raber, Gridley, Ill.; Naomi Scott, Westgate, Iowa and Gabriella Taylor, Newark, N.Y.

Jacob Harbaugh

Jacob Harbaugh

Clintonville high school student, Jacob Harbaugh, was born into the dairy industry and spent a lot of time out in the milking barn until his parents, Lynn and Sara sold the milking herd when he was 5.

While the family no longer milk cows, they do raise quality Holstein heifers on their farmette, Bella-View Holsteins near Marion, Wis. Jacob credits his parents with helping him to develop his own Holstein herd which includes Bella-Ridge Beauty Queen, who he has has shown every year since she was a spring calf. Beauty Queen was Jacob's first Junior All-American winner in 2019.

Jacob's winning application this year is proof of his tenacity. Although last year's application never moved beyond the state level, he made a few modifications this year which helped him catch the judging committee's attention.

"I wasn't sure what to expect because I knew there would be stiff competition," the 15 year old said. "When I heard my name announced there was this feeling of humility: being one of 8 people in the nation selected out of all the individuals who applied. It certainly isn't something I will forget."

Jacob says his ties to the Junior Holstein Association have contributed much to his personal development.

"It's helped me to develop my work ethic, social skills and organizational skills that I will use throughout my life," said Jacob, who plans to pursue a career in the agriculture field.

Jacob was also a national qualifier for the Dairy Jeopardy contest several times and served as an officer in his local FFA chapter.

His siblings, Logan and Madison are also active in the family's Holstein operation.

Colton Brandel

Colton Brandel

Growing up on a fifth generation dairy farm, Straussdale Holsteins LLC, has afforded Lake Mills High School student Colton Brandel many opportunities.

Working alongside of his family, Matt and Tracy Brandel and siblings, Ashley, Katie and Justin, of Lake Mills, WI, Colton has had many opportunities to experience agriculture including dairy promotional activities such as Cows on the Concourse, Agriculture in the Classroom presentations and at the Wisconsin State Fair.

His younger sister, Ashley, was also a delegate from Wisconsin competing for the National YDJM honor.

Colton says he was inspired by his family to become active in the Junior Holstein Association.

"I have grown up watching the dedication of my parents, grandpa Jim and Uncle Bruce, aunts and cousins as they pursued their goals in dairy farming and Holsteins through their involvement in the Wisconsin Holstein Association," he said. "Through my involvement, I've been able to meet youth across Wisconsin that share the same lifestyle – working with Holstein dairy cattle and farming."

Being honest, the 15 year old wasn't expecting to be chosen as a YDJM finalist.

"I was very surprised," he admitted. "I'm very honored to represent Wisconsin and grateful to our farm family, and all of the mentors and friends that have given so much of their time in my Junior Holstein projects."

Colton says his involvement in Junior Holstein Association has shaped his life in countless ways on the farm and in the show ring.

"I've also learned lifelong skills – being able to speak to the public about the importance of the dairy industry, time management and responsibility – are just a few," he said. "The support of other Junior Holstein youth and adult leaders that I have met through this association will be felt for the rest of my life."

After graduation, Colton plans to continue working on the family dairy farm.