This is one of my favorite quotes. Past National Holstein Association president and dairy producer Doug Maddox of California encourages adults to see the value in giving a young person the chance to work with "their very own" animal. Doug got his start in the dairy industry when he was given a calf by the neighbor.

Last week a video was taken at the New York State Fair with an 11-year-old and his registered Guernsey calf, Lana. He earned the calf through the New York Guernsey Association's essay contest. The purpose of essay contest and calf is to encourage those who do not presently own Guernseys to become involved with the Guernsey breed. In its 9th year, the purebred Guernsey calf was awarded to an applicant who shows interest in the Guernsey breed and who has demonstrated the capabilities of developing the animal to its fullest potential.

What I enjoyed most of the video was the enthusiasm in this young man's face when he talks about his calf and his future in agriculture. He cares for his spring calf each morning and night at his grandpa's farm. At the recent New York State Fair, halter in hand, Lana and Lyn stroll the fairgrounds as best buddies, while stopping to let curious fairgoers gently pet his peach-colored friend. Watch the video from the local news station. The video appears in the center of the page, after a brief commercial introduction.

The herd owners who donate their animals for such causes are very special to our industry. And, if they choose to be publicly acknowledged or shy away from the attention their generosity brings, rest assured that their commitment and contribution to others is appreciated. Is your farm is looking for a way to help develop the next generation? If so, this might be an option.

Receiving your very own calf as a youngster has laid the foundation for many young people's passion and long-term commitment to our industry. Knowing the calf is "their" project encourages responsibility and is their tie to the farming operation, rather than believing that all the cows belong to "the family". Some dairy producer parents have simply given a calf to their child to begin their project, while older youth may be rewarded with a calf for work they have done on the farm. Whether the calf was a gift from a neighbor, the lucky prize in a calf raffle, an earned reward for a well-written essay, or an animal from their home operation, the learning experiences gained are the same. Get a kid a calf and watch that young person mature along with that calf!