Sept. 29 2013 12:42 AM

Past WDE judging winners are keeping the tradition alive and in the family

Most young dairy enthusiasts have a passion for dairying because that is what the generation before them did and they want to continue the tradition. Likewise, there are many families who have continued to show and judge cattle because their love for it has been shared and passed down from generation to generation. While family ties to dairy cattle judging are common, it is unique for members of the same family to win High Individual in a World Dairy Expo judging contest.
Father and son duo Charles and Mark Iager were both fortunate enough to have won the World Dairy Expo 4-H judging contest in 1958 and 1992, respectively. Charles got his start back in 1951 after joining 4-H and deciding to have dairy cattle as his project. "I grew into showing cattle and then judging cattle. They are hand in hand," Charles shared. With hours and hours of practice and dedication, Charles worked his way up to the Maryland 4-H judging team. He considers himself lucky to have been high individual, but true talent and good coaching brought him to the top. "I remember the Jerseys being the hardest class. It gave me a hard time but I remember my coach Johnny Morris saying ‘your first impression is usually right.' I happened to win the Jersey breed too," Charles said.

Even with some challenges, Charles' skills got him through. At the close of the contest his coach asked him how he thought it went. "I said it was the easiest contest I've ever been in, not knowing how things would work out," Charles said with a laugh. He also couldn't have anticipated that he would one day have a son following very closely in his footsteps.

Charlie Iager in 1958

1958: James Goodman, Coach, Asst. County Agent,; James Phillip Jones, Charles Iager, Jr.; George Debnam; Kenneth Zimmerman; John L. Morris, Coach, Dairy Extension Specialist, University of Maryland.

Mark Iager in 1992
1992: Standing - Ole Meland, Accelerated Genetics; Marie Speak; Mark Iager;
Brian Derr, Coach; Sapienza Majeskie; J. Lee Majeskie, Coach.
Seated - Chip Savage; Kristi Geary.

Mark also got his start judging in 4-H, at eight years old. In 1992, he was 15 years old and judging on the Maryland 4-H judging team, just like his father in 1958. He describes his experience as being very exciting. "They started announcing the placings backwards and I was hoping to be up there. As they got closer to first they hadn't called my name so I wasn't sure what was going on. Then they finally called my name," Mark shared.

Mark may have done as well as his dad did, but he never felt any pressure from him to perform in the judging arena. "Judging is just like looking at the cows in your herd. Every time I see a class it's almost instinctive to judge them. I just see them naturally," Mark said. While Mark didn't feel any pressure from his dad or two older brothers, they did offer him judging advice and passed down wisdom from their own coaches. "My dad always told me your first impression is usually right."

Judging has always been a family affair for the Iagers. They would even place the Hoard's Dairyman Judging Contest together, and won in 1984 and 1985. Their judging traditions continued after World Dairy Expo as well. Mark judged at local, county and state shows, and also served as an official for a few years at the Expo contest. Charles helped coach judging teams in their county after he won the contest, "I couldn't get out of it. I enjoyed it so much," he shared. The family also hosts teams on their farm to practice, continuing the tradition for other judging enthusiasts.
Pires blog footerThe author is the 25th Hoard's Dairyman editorial intern. She will be a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Taylor is majoring in dairy science with an agricultural communications minor. Pires grew up on a 500-cow dairy in Merced County, Calif.