Dairy Showcase awards 4'Hers

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Michael Schmitt was speechless Aug. 29 at the Minnesota State Fair.

Michael Schmitt, 17, of Rice is the top winner of the 2010 Minnesota 4-H Dairy Showcase held Aug. 29 at the Minnesota State Fair. He won $1,500.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Michael Schmitt was speechless Aug. 29 at the Minnesota State Fair.

The day before, the 17-year-old's cow, Crystal, had been named Champion Cow and and Champion Total Merit Cow in the 4-H registered Holstein class.

Now Schmitt, of Rice, had his own title as top winner of the Minnesota 4-H Dairy Showcase. He won $1,500.

Last year, he was the event's second place finisher. His parents are Mark and Natalie Schmitt.

The showcase is a joint effort of the Minnesota State Fair 4-H Dairy Project Development Committee and the Minnesota Livestock Breeders Association.


Exhibitors must receive a purple or blue ribbon in their state fair class to be eligible.

They fill out a leadership profile, which asks about involvement with their dairy project, 4-H leadership, school and community. Points are given for participation in the 2009 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, a quiz bowl that took place in the spring and an interview at the state fair about their dairy project and industry knowledge. Bonus points are given for champion or reserve champion titles and for excelling in showmanship at the state fair.

A judging committee uses a score card to select the top 25 exhibitors.

Prize money is divvied out from sponsors, which include dairy-related companies, breed or agriculture associations and dairy producers.

This year's sponsors raised $16,575.

Schmitt will probably use his money to buy a calf. No stipulations exist on how the prizes are used, but organizers hope it goes toward education or an investment into the 4-H'ers dairy herd.

Schmitt's award came from this year's largest sponsor, the University of Minnesota's Gopher Dairy Club.

The club wanted to participate in the showcase to promote the dairy industry and the young people who are getting involved, said president Mike Donnelly.


"They're the future of the industry and they've put in a lot of hard work in their 4-H projects," he said.

Other top ten honorees were Labecca Johnson of La Crescent, $1,250; Jonathon Schmitt of Rice, $1,000; Annie Achen of Sauk Centre, $900; Kelsey Mussman of Claremont, $850; Rebecca Groos of Howard Lake, $800; Paul Johnson of La Cresecent, $725; Christy Achen of Sauk Centre, $650; Jacob Achen of Sauk Centre, $575 and Haely Leiding of Fountain, $500.

The 11th through 25th place prizes ranged from $400 to $200.

This was the second year of the showcase, and already the event is starting to show signs of momentum.

Sponsors contributed approximately $4,500 more than last year. That bumped up the amount each of the 25 winners received. Twenty percent of the funds are set aside for 4-H animal science education.

"We want to recognize kids who worked hard and have shown a genuine interest in the dairy industry because we believe it's very important to encourage and motivate them to continue to stay in the industry, beyond their years in 4-H," said Sarah Schmidt, vice chair of the showcase committee.

Winners were notified the night before the event. They knew who was in the top 10 because those exhibitors were invited to bring their dairy animals. What the winners didn't know was their specific rank. That was revealed when the emcee, Scott Ellinghuysen of Altura, announced their names in order during the showcase.

This year's action took place at the Swine Barn's arena so family and friends had more space than last year to watch the presentation.


After greetings from Minnesota 4-H program leader Dorothy Freeman and newly-crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way Katie Miron, Ellinghuysen, dressed formally for the occasion, announced the winners, starting with 25th place.

He read short bios as each 4-H'er, carrying a green banner donning the showcase logo, walked across the arena to take a picture with their sponsor.

A two-sided screen hanging from the ceiling in the arena's center showed his or her picture. The audience watched from bleachers on both sides and cheered when someone they knew was announced.

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