Goodhue County 4-H Dairy Judging Team Places 1st in Nation


2023 was another very successful year for the senior dairy judging team from Goodhue County. The team placed first at the Minnesota State Fair which advanced them to the national competition at World Dairy Expo. They also took first place honors at World Dairy Expo on October 1st, 2023 - edging out Missouri 4-H by nine points. Goodhue County 4-H member Natalie Clemenson tallied three top-five breed finishes en route to winning the placings portion of the contest. Clemenson also became the high individual of the contest with an average of 47.7 on the day’s 10 classes and five sets of reasons. Minnesota was the high team in placings as well. In addition to Clemenson, Evelyn Scheffler won Jerseys and finishing fourth in Holsteins to be the third individual in placings. She finished in third overall. The team was completed by Calvin Benrud and Caryn Miklas and coached by Tony Scheffler, Maizie Scheffler, and Emily Mollenhauer.

As a result of winning the National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, the team has been invited to participate in two international judging competitions during the summer of 2024: the Royal Highland Show in Scotland and the Clonmel Agricultural Show in Ireland.

The Goodhue County 4-H Dairy Judging Team is part of the county dairy project, which consists of about 40 members. Goodhue County has one of the largest and most successful 4-H dairy judging programs in the state. Our teams are coached by volunteer dairy project leaders from Goodhue County. Older team members also serve as mentors to younger youth.

Dairy judging involves evaluating and ranking classes of dairy animals on trait characteristics. Each class consists of four animals of the same age and breed. Youth are given 15 minutes to judge each class and to take notes to give an impromptu speech, or reasons, to defend their placing. They are given 20 minutes to prepare their reasons which must be memorized.

4-H youth practice dairy judging 1-2 times per week in the summer months. Contests are held at county fairs and the state fair which enable youth to further develop their judging skills. Youth are ranked on individual score and their scores are also combined with those of their teammates (4 on a team).

Dairy judging programs are an excellent way for youth involved in 4-H to develop valuable life skills such as critical thinking, organization, decision making, time management, and public speaking. Participating in dairy judging helps youth to build self-confidence, work as a team, and learn from as well as teach others.