The author and her husband work in partnership with family on a 100-cow dairy in St. Charles, Ill.
Since the inception of the International Junior Holstein Show, Rick and Paula Bovre have served as superintendents and looked to spur opportunities.

On Tuesday, October 1, World Dairy Expo will open, and the exhibitors and cattle of the International Junior Holstein Show will be the first to walk the colored shavings in the Coliseum. It will mark the fifteenth year of a dedicated youth Holstein show.

Over the years, the number and quality of the youth showing within the International Holstein Show caught the attention of World Dairy Expo staff and the Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee. So, in 2004, the International Junior Holstein Show was founded to provide youth Holstein exhibitors an opportunity to show with fellow youth.

In the fifteen years since its inception, over 2,300 youth and 3,000 cattle have been a part of the show. Working tirelessly behind the scenes each year has been superintendents Rick and Paula Bovre.

While many know the husband and wife duo as managers of the Great Northern Land and Cattle Company in Fond du Lac, Wis., they are also long-time World Dairy Expo volunteers. Paula doesn’t remember how she and Rick were approached to be superintendents of the International Junior Holstein Show, but she recalls it being a simple decision to make.

“We enjoy volunteering at World Dairy Expo and seeing the positive influence it has on the dairy industry, especially youth. Being superintendents of the show was a good fit,” she said.

While exhibiting on the colored shavings at World Dairy Expo is an exciting achievement for any dairy enthusiast, Paula explained the special meaning it holds for youth. “It means a lot to these kids to have the opportunity to compete at a national level with their peers,” she said. “It’s not all about winning, but the camaraderie and experience they gain from participating.”

Rick and Paula, along with the other superintendents, work with World Dairy Expo staff to ensure a successful dairy cattle show each year. A few of their duties include coordinating showring volunteers, stalling assignments, and cattle check-in. Specific to the International Junior Holstein Show, Rick and Paula work to ensure the show abides by Holstein USA National Junior showring policies.

Chance of a lifetime

By having youth compete separately, it can alleviate the intimidation of exhibiting alongside adults. “Some of the youth exhibiting are comfortable competing at a national show.”

“For others, the International Junior Holstein Show helps us provide a national show experience to those that are still learning and gaining showring experience,” she explained. The more manageable class size also allows the judge extra time to provide reasons for his or her placings and showring personnel additional time to work with the youth on showring procedures.

The culmination of Rick and Paula’s work to create a learning environment is paying off as the number of exhibitors continues to grow each year. “Youth tell fellow youth about the positive experience they have showing at World Dairy Expo, and it continues to help the show grow,” Paula explained. The first year there were 138 exhibitors in the International Junior Holstein Show. In 2018, the show had its largest number of exhibitors yet with 231 youth from 25 states and Canada.

Also, following the conclusion of the International Junior Holstein Show, exhibitors and cattle can be released, said Paula. “This makes showing at World Dairy Expo more feasible for youth, especially in the Midwest, as they don’t have the cost of being at the show and missing school for the entire week,” she explained.

In addition to seeing the number of exhibitors and cattle climb, Paula has seen the quality of the show grow. “It’s developed a reputation as a high-caliber show and a great testament to the hard work of the kids,” she said.

For many of the exhibitors, the International Junior Holstein Show represents the pinnacle of their year and the result of their efforts working with their show animals throughout the spring and summer show season.

Under Rick and Paula’s leadership, the show continues to flourish and has added several new awards. “We started with the basic classes and have continued building it up. A few years ago, we added a Bred and Owned Champion. This year, we’ll be adding a Summer Junior Two-Year-Old Class,” she said.

For Paula, continuing to attract youth to participate in the International Junior Holstein Show means continuous evolution. “We work closely with the World Dairy Expo staff and board of directors to evaluate any changes or new opportunities for the show,” she said. In addition to the International Junior Holstein Show, youth can participate in showmanship and a fitting contest.

With the show reaching its fifteenth anniversary, there’s a generation of individuals that started showing in the International Junior Holstein Show and have graduated to the open show. There’s a few that have moved to the center of the ring as a volunteer or even a judge, including Brandon Ferry (associate judge in 2019), Robert Teixeira (associate judge in 2018) and Molly Sloan (official judge in 2014).

“Kids look forward to World Dairy Expo,” Paula added. “It’s an opportunity to showcase their hard work, build lasting friendships with peers, and learn skills that will help them in the future.” Today’s exhibitors in the International Junior Holstein Show are the future of the industry and World Dairy Expo. With Rick and Paula Bovre and their steadfast leadership, the International Junior Holstein Show has developed a strong foundation and is poised to have a bright future.