For some, that day cannot come quickly enough. For others, there is simply not enough time. World Dairy Expo is the event that so many producers, cattle owners, allied industry representatives, and young adults anticipate all year. "Crowning Achievements - Golden Opportunities" is aptly themed for this year's World Dairy Expo and is especially true of the youth dairy judging contest. Only a few winners will be crowned, but the opportunity to represent your state and your university is a very special honor.

The national 4-H, collegiate, and post-secondary judging contests are held on Monday, September 27. Teams from Washington to Florida, California to Vermont will be competing for the prestigious title of National Champions and individual All-American honors. While dairy judging may be seen as just another dairy youth contest, it holds valuable lessons that are not available to the majority of young people outside of agriculture.

Simply speaking, knowing how to select cattle of good conformation helps producers determine which animals would be the best investment when adding cattle to their herds or making breeding decisions. This is a skill that those wanting to enter dairy production or dairy support careers should develop. On the next level, the ability for young people to make decisions (place the classes) and then prepare logical reasons for those decisions are skills that every young person, whether in agriculture or not, should develop. Forming an opinion and then confidently defending that decision when presenting oral reasons will undoubtedly create more self-confident young people who, in turn, will be effective employees, employers, and members of society. So, when the results are announced for the 4-H and post-secondary contest on Monday evening and the collegiate contest on Tuesday morning, take note not only of the names at the top of the lists, but of the group as a whole. Only one team or individual can wear the crown, but be confident there is a kingdom of young people who have developed the decision-making and communication skills to lead our industry into the future.