Spencer County FFA: Coach Bland Baird, Skylar Volz, Alexis Adams, Makenna Cox, Trinity Johnson, and Connor Foster with award presenter.

With a healthy 74-point margin of victory, Spencer County FFA chapter took home the top prize at the 2017 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. For this National FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Career Development Event (CDE) contest, all four team members’ scores must count. Kentucky was led by 2nd place individual-finisher Connor Foster. Her teammates included Alexis Adams, Makenna Cox, and Trinity Johnson with alternate Skylar Volz. The school placed second at the All-American Dairy Show’s Judging Contest in Harrisburg, Penn., last month, but only Cox was on that team.

The top five teams had significant points separating them, tighter scores were seen in the next team grouping of five. Following Kentucky were teams from California, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Washington, Utah, and Texas. The top three teams at this contest are invited to participate in the Royal Highlands Show in Scotland next summer.

Top Individuals:

Connor Erbsen, High Individual
Individual scores are a combination of classes, reasons, the written test, and DHI evaluation. The high individual, Connor Erbsen, from Eastland FFA in Illinois, won by a single point. Erbsen was an All-American at the National 4-H Dairy Judging contest a few weeks ago, placing 13th individually. No doubt his many years of dairy bowl competitions gave him an advantage in the written exam portion.

Young ladies took the next spots as Kentucky’s Connor Foster placed second and Emily Benrud of Minnesota claimed third place. Missouri’s Lora Wright placed fourth –she placed sixth in the National 4-H contest held earlier this month.

Florida’s Michael Fioretto, Indiana’s Hannah McVay, and Wisconsin’s Emma Buss were next in line. Wrapping up the top 10 individuals were Luke Wolfisberg of Washington, Reagan Sellers of Pennsylvania, and Kaitlin Gassiot of Texas.

The contest includes a written test on dairy management, evaluation of DHI records, six classes of dairy cattle to judge, three sets of oral reasons, and a team activity that includes evaluating a farm and providing feedback in the form of an oral team presentation on a farm’s nutrition program. The topic of the team presentation changes each year and is similar to the popular National Dairy Challenge, but FFA members do not visit a dairy. They review images and documentation from the operation.

Teams that competed in this year’s National FFA contest are welcome to submit photos of their FFA Dairy Judging Team to Hoard’s Dairyman and we will share them on our Facebook page.

Patti Hurtgen

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.