National 4-H Conference attendees tour Hoard\'s Dairyman Farm

The National 4-H Dairy Conference brings together 200 young people with a strong interest in the dairy industry from across the U.S. for an educational and networking event each year in Madison, Wis.

On the first full day, a staple of the conference, is a tour stop in Fort Atkinson. Upon their arrival, they are treated to lunch at the Fort Atkinson Congregational Church, sponsored by Nasco and Hoard's Dairyman. (The welcome dinner last night was sponsored by National Dairy Shrine.) Luncheon greetings are given by Dave Selner, Executive Director of National Dairy Shrine, Amanda Smith, Associate Editor at Hoard's Dairyman, and Barbara George from Nasco.

Tours to Nasco, the National Dairy Shrine, the Hoard's Dairyman office and farm are next on the agenda. Youth learn about the history of the 130-year-old magazine and how it has changed over the past century. The farm is just a mile away from the offices, and is where just under 500 registered Jerseys and Guernseys call home. The herringbone parlor and freestall barn were constructed in 2007 and are popular spots on the tours.

For many of them, coming from 28 states and three Canadian provinces, it's their first time venturing to Wisconsin, and for some it's the first opportunity they have had to travel outside their state's border.

This year's youth are part of the 61st conference. From 1955 to 1970, the conference was held in Chicago, Ill. Knowledge development was key as the first groups learned from respected dairy industry authorities, toured processing plants, visited the Chicago Stockyards and attended the International Dairy Show. Through the years, the educational aspect of the program has remained its pillar.

In 1970, the national show transitioned from Chicago to Madison as World Dairy Expo was launch. The conference followed and has called Wisconsin home since its 16th annual event. Since 1955, approximately 10,000 youth have attended the conference.

To learn more about the program, or to learn how to apply for the program, visit www.national4hdairyconference.org. Members who exhibited cattle at World Dairy Expo or who are participating in the judging contests at Expo cannot attend the conference in the same year due to time constraints.

Below, are some pictures from the day's activities:

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