Matthew Gunst and Lauren Siemers win top Jr. Holstein award

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer

It seems only natural that Matthew Gunst and Lauren Siemers would top off their careers in Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association with a flourish. For years, the 20 year olds have competed against ‒ and encouraged each other to the best of their ability ‒ in show rings across Wisconsin and in various contests.

Matthew Gunst of Dodge County and Lauren Siemers of Manitowoc County were named Outstanding Holstein Boy and Girl during the 2023 Wisconsin Junior Holstein Convention held Jan. 6-8 in Manitowoc, Wis.

Fittingly, the pair received the organization's most prestigious honor of being named Outstanding Holstein Boy and Girl during the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association Convention held Jan. 6-8, 2023 in Manitowoc. The award recognizes the effort and excellence put forth in their Holstein projects and contributions to the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association.

In a tribute posted on his Facebook wall, Gunst attributed his success to his grandfather for helping to embody the qualities of hard work, determination, resilience and passion associated with dairy farming and raising registered Holstein cows.

"While my grandfather may not be here on this earth, I can only imagine his pride and smile as he looks down on everything my cousins, sister and I have been able to accomplish so far," Gunst said. "I strive to be like him in every way possible.”

Gunst acknowledged the support of his family and the contributions of his exceptional coaches along the way who have "always pushed me to be the best I can possibly be and not afraid to dole out the “tough love” when needed."

Gunst is the son of Dennis and Nikki Gunst of Dodge County where he is the sixth generation to live on their family's Dodge County farm. Gunst and his sister Elizabeth own and operate Ladinodale Holsteins and Jerseys. He attends the University of Minnesota, majoring in Animal Science and Agricultural Communication and Marketing. 

Lauren Siemers of Manitowoc County follows in the footsteps of a family who upholds a strong tradition with the JHA.

"My biggest inspirations have been all of my wonderful mentors. My aunt and coach Janina Siemers, mentors Angie Ulness, Jennifer Meyer, and Amanda Smith have all supported me and really encouraged me to apply myself and work hard," she said. "My family also supports me and has allowed me so many opportunities by helping with my Holstein project."

Siemers, who is also represents the sixth generation at Siemers Holsteins, says Junior Holsteins has had such an impact on her life.

"Through Junior Holstein I’ve made countless connections and friends that I will keep up with as I age out of JHA and beyond," she said.

She is the daughter of Paul and Jenny Siemers and currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where she is studying marketing with a minor in journalism. She one day hopes to combine her degree with her dairy background to pursue a career in agricultural sales.

DJM award recipients

As part of the convention, outstanding members were recognized for achievements in their Registered Holstein programs in 2022. Those being honored as Distinguished Junior Member finalists were: Ashley Brandel, Lake Mills; Courtney Glenna, Amery; Matthew Gunst, Hartford; Jacob Harbaugh, 17, Marion; Madeline Hensel, 17, Pittsville; Evan Jauquet, Pulaski; Chloe LaCrosse, Forestville; Sam Mess, Rosendale; Ainsley Noble, Lancaster; Lauren Siemers, Kiel; Emily Stumpf, Appleton; Zoe Ertel, Plymouth.

Siemers, Glenna, Noble and Hensel have been selected to represent Wisconsin for National Distinguished Junior Member recognition through Holstein Association USA.

Young Distinguished Junior Members

The following members were recognized as Young Distinguished Junior Members award recipients: Jaron Begert, Neillsville; Justin Brandel, Lake Mills; Katie Brandel, Lake Mills; Alison Gartman, Sheboygan; Cathryn Gunst, Pine River; Christopher Gunst, Pine River; Vivian Lichty, Beaver Dam; Leah Mess, Beaver Dam; Laney Neuser, Cato; Ella Raatz, Colby; Cameron Ryan, Fond du Lac; Dylan Ryan, Fond du Lac; Stella Schmocker, Whitewater; Madison Wiese, Wrightstown.

12 & Under Award winners

The Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association’s 12 & Under Member Recognition is designed to reward youth who demonstrate knowledge of the dairy industry. This year award winners are: Royce Booth, Plymouth; Evan Brey, Sturgeon Bay; Kayla Buttles, Lancaster; Elise Gilbertson, Hollandale; Makenna Gilbertson, Hollandale; Madison Harbaugh, Marion; Adella Loehr, Eden; Natalie Mauk, Plymouth; Lexi Metzler, Vernon County; Braelyn Sarbacker, Verona; Madison Sarbacker, Whitewater; Landon Wendorf, Ixonia; Alivia Wiese, Wrightstown.