On a cold March day, young 4-H members fill an auditorium at UVM’s Rowell Hall. They wait impatiently for the state livestock educator to read the placement of participants in the days dairy quiz bowl. The 4-Hers spent the day answering difficult questions about the dairy industry and animals they are so passionate about.
In 2009, Bonnie and Richard Hall of Fairmont Farm started Udderly Crazy 4-H club to give back to the community and teach kids about the dairy industry.
“4-H was a big part of my adolescent years,” said Richard Hall. “I developed a passion for showing dairy cattle, developed lifelong friendships and developed leadership skills through my parents’ 4-H club.”
Bonnie and Richard saw a need for a local dairy club, “We opened it up to interested children in the neighborhood as we felt it might be popular with some non-farm kids. Originally we had eight members and currently we have nine.” The Vermont 4-H program is run though UVM extension and is open to members from 8-18 as of January 1st.
The dairy 4-H year begins in November with the state dairy challenge at UVM. Participants of the challenge attend 4 seminars related to dairy and take a short quiz at the end.
The dairy challenge is a good way to learn more about something that all participants are passionate about. Other events throughout the winter and spring are quizbowl, judging and a show calf summit. Shows begin in the beginning of the summer and are spread out towards the end.
4-H brings people together and brings great pride to members as well as leaders and educators. Todd Howard, a student at Hazen Union High School and member of Kingdom Country Farmers 4-H club, said, “I joined because I wanted new opportunities and that I had friends in it that wanted me to join. It also has many connections that you wanted to make with new people.”
As a final remark, Hall said. “I am very proud of our kids’ achievements as they have shown exceptional leadership, participation and competitiveness. It has also been very rewarding to see the interest these kids have shown in the dairy industry.”
Fairmont Farm leases calves to 4-H members to work with throughout the spring and summer, preparing for the first show in June.