MADISON, Wis. —Minnesota placed fourth behind Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin at the National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest on Sept. 30 at World Dairy Expo.

The Fillmore County 4-H team consists of Haely Leiding, Kayla Leiding, Travis Troendle and Abby Hopp. Stacy Leiding, Kayla and Haely's mother, is head coach. Pat Troendle, Travis' father, is assistant coach.

The team finished eighth in reasons, seventh in Ayrshires, ninth in Brown Swiss, second in Guernseys, fourth in Holsteins and 10th in Jerseys. Troendle was fifth overall, seventh in Ayrshires, and 11th in reasons. Haely Leiding was first in Guernseys, 18th in reasons and ninth overall. Kayla Leiding was seventh in Brown Swiss and 30th overall. Hopp was sixth in Guernseys and 34th overall.

Haely and Kayla are daughters of Todd and Stacy Leiding, of Fountain. They are juniors at Lanesboro High School.

"We've been working toward this for so long, and fourth is a great award," said Haley. "It's sad to be done with 4-H dairy judging, but we will continue to judge through FFA and with collegiate judging. This is a once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember."

She said she and her team members wanted to thank all their supporters who cheered them on.

"It was so exciting to be judging at World Dairy Expo and to do as well as we did," Kayla said. "We worked so hard to get here. We've been really involved in dairy judging for many years."

Hopp, 15, is a sophomore at Chatfield. Her parents are Doug and Heather Hopp.

"This was my first year judging as a senior," Hopp said, adding that she studied on her own as much as she could. he said she was proud of how she and her team did in the national competition.

Troendle, 16, is the son of Pat and Christine Troendle, of Lanesboro.

"The contest was a lot of work and a lot of fun," Troendle said. "We spent the trip over here getting ready. I did better than I thought I would. To be fifth high individual is exciting."

The team practiced every Wednesday this summer judging cattle, and they went to other county fairs to judge. They also practiced twice with University of Minnesota dairy judging teams.

"It's a nice opportunity to meet college students with the same interests and hear their reasons for placing cattle the way they did," Stacy said. "It gives them the chance to learn new perspectives and new terms."

The Leidings, Hopp and Troendle said dairy judging has helped them improve their public speaking skills, basic knowledge about the dairy industry, memorization and overall confidence.

Judging at World Dairy Expo is somewhat familiar to Stacy. She judged both as a 4-H member and as a member of the University of Minnesota team. She could not have been more proud of the Fillmore County team.

"They are a close-knit team," she said. "They are really good friends outside of dairy judging and are active in many of the same things. This is a unique group. They really have a passion for agriculture and the dairy industry, and it's been great to work with them."

Stacy has coached Fillmore County dairy judging teams since 1996, the year before her daughters were born. They started going to practices with her when they were in second grade. Troendle and Hopp joined when they started 4-H.

"It's been a great opportunity to work with my own children and with Travis and Abby and see them grow," Stacy said.

Haely, Kayla, Troendle and his brother, Jared, will be judging dairy cattle at the National FFA Convention later this month in Louisville, Ky.