knowledge bowl team

By Carol Stender

LITCHFIELD, Minn. — Meeker County’s 4-H Dairy Knowledge Bowl team took top honors at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky., earlier this month.

Brothers Isaac and Lucas Salfer of Dassel and Simon Kern and Alan Barka, both of Watkins, won the National 4-H Dairy Knowledge Bowl. They were coached by Jim Salfer of Dassel.

This is the first time Minnesota has won the contest in over 25 years.


Team members all participated in the 4-H Knowledge Bowls, starting with junior division competitions, but the two oldest teammates are nearing the end of their 4-H careers. Isaac Salfer is a senior at Dassel-Cokato High School and Simon Kern is a South Dakota State University freshman majoring in animal science.

Alan Barka is a Litchfield High School sophomore and Lucas Salfer, the youngest team member, is a Dassel-Cokato freshman.

"I wanted to end my 4-H career in a good way and, obviously, we reached our full potential," Kern said. "It was a good way to go out."

Kern doesn’t have a dairy background, but says that was a good thing.

"I really enjoyed it even more because I was learning something that was new to me," he said.

Isaac Salfer began participating in knowledge bowl competitions around fifth grade, he said. His father, Jim, is the team’s coach and stirred Isaac’s interest in dairy.

The team started practice in January for contests in March or April, he said. Before the regional contest, the practices moved from weekly to twice-a-week sessions. Sometimes the group studied from textbooks. Sometimes they would dissect animal parts to learn more about the respiratory, reproductive, and mammary systems.

"That was fun," he said.


Three Upper Midwest teams took the top three places in the contest, Salfer said. Besides their team’s first place finish, a team from Iowa took second and Wisconsin, third.

The contest consists of a quiz, an answering group and individual questions based on all parts of the dairy business.

The Meeker County team won the first two matches, defeating Michigan and Georgia teams by more than 100 points each, and beating New York by 60 points and Wisconsin by 40 points. They won the championship round by beating Iowa by 150 points.

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