It was another national team victory for five young ladies from Polk County 4-H. They topped the first-ever North American Dairy Educational Experience held in December. The NADEE contest was developed to provide a dairy learning experience because the in-person National 4-H Dairy Bowl Contest was canceled due to COVID-19.
The first-place team from Polk County in northwestern Wisconsin includes Courtney Glenna, Katherine Elwood, Ella Williamson, Grace Haase and Hailey Clausen. Glenna, Elwood and Williamson are students at Amery High School. Haase is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Clausen is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Instead of asking specific questions about the dairy industry and the science behind concepts, NADEE required participants to evaluate a set of written, farm-based mini scenarios. The youth worked in teams of three to five to evaluate the strengths and opportunities for improving management practices discussed in each scenario. The subject areas covered housing, calves, nutrition, reproduction and animal care.
Team members could communicate with each other in person, on the phone or electronically. They could use written sources, such as books and magazines, to support their suggested improvements to the farm scenarios. However, they were not allowed to consult advisers, other 4-H’ers or industry professionals when evaluating the farm scenarios or when providing feedback. The teams had one week to review each scenario and prepare their feedback. They wrote a two-page letter to the hypothetical farm owner detailing their evaluation of the farm, including management steps that could be taken to improve the operation. They received a new scenario every two weeks, so the contest was spread over a three-month window.
States could enter more than one team, but only one team could submit their letters for review by the judges. 4-H youth who participated in NADEE did not use their eligibility to compete at future North American 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl contests, and previous participants could participate as long as they met the eligibility rules of age and completion of college courses. Glenna, Elwood and Haase were on the team that won the 2019 National 4-H Dairy Bowl Contest.
Fifteen states participated in NADEE include: Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. from Georgia, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania had a second team of youth indicate they participated at their local level. The second-place team is from New York. The two Honorable Mention teams are from Massachusetts and Michigan.
The team from Polk County was coached by Patti Hurtgen and Gwen Dado. Dado says she and Hurtgen were impressed with how much their team knew.
“This was a no-coach-contact event, so we couldn’t get involved,” Dado explains. “Patti and I were thrilled to see how well they did. It was a really good hands-on, take-what-you-know from dairy bowl and put it into a letter to the farmer. They also had to cite sources to back up what they were saying.”
Dado thinks this event was a great experience for team members. “The biggest thing for Patti and I was the young women were able to take what they learned in dairy bowl and apply it to a real-life situation — that was very impressive,” she says.
According to Dado, Polk County team members have competed together in dairy bowl competitions for the past four years.
The North American Dairy Educational Experience was sponsored by National Dairy Shrine, American Dairy Science Association, Hoard’s Dairyman and Select Sires.