Wisconsin youth earn DJM honors at National Convention

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Brian 'Mac' McCullough, left, Hannah Hockerman and Matthew Gunst, right, are Holstein USA Distinguished Junior Member finalists.

A trio of Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association members earned top honors during the National Junior Holstein Convention Awards Banquet in Sioux Falls, S.D.Dakota. 

Named as finalists in the Distinguished Junior Member competition were Matthew Gunst, Hartford, Hannah Hockerman, Westfield and Brian “Mac” McCullough, Juda. The were joined by fellow finalists Ryan Allen, Jefferson, Md., Regan Demmer, Peosta, Iowa and Blake Wright, Verona, Mo..

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of Holstein Association USA’s Distinguished Junior Member (DJM) award. Started in 1922, the DJM competition is the longest running contest and the highest honor given to a Junior Holstein member, ages 17 to 21.

“As we reflect back on the past 100 years of the Distinguished Junior Member competition, we see many past DJM finalists have gone on to serve Holstein USA and the dairy industry in significant ways,” says Kelli Dunklee, Holstein Association USA Youth Program Specialist in a news release. “We look forward to continuing this special tradition and developing future leaders.”

The six winners emerged from a rigorous two-part selection process. Youth members competing put together a book highlighting their Junior Holstein work, activities and projects, breeding program, and personal views. The Junior’s entry book is worth 60 percent of the final score, and the top 12 individuals are named DJM Semifinalists based on their book score.

Phase two of the contest takes place at National Junior Holstein Convention, where the semifinalists are interviewed by a committee of judges. The interview is worth 40 percent of the final score, and the six individuals with the highest combined scores are named DJM finalists.

Harbaugh, Gunst among YDJM finalists

Two Wisconsinites were among eight Junior Holstein members ages 9 to 16 to be selected as Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) finalists. The applicants were judged on their YDJM books, which highlight their accomplishments and leadership with the Junior Holstein Association and beyond.

Elizabeth Gunst, Hartford, and Logan Harbaugh, Marion, were recognized during the 2022 National Junior Holstein Convention. Joining them were fellow finalists Isaac Folts, North Collins, N.Y., Sophia Geppert, Kingdom City, Mo., Sophie Griswold, Chadds Ford, Pa., Jenna Larson, Okeechobee, Fla., Madison Mowrer, Petersburg, Pa., and Shelby Swanson, Hutchinson, Minn.