2016 National 4-H Dairy Conference registration open until Aug. 19

The National 4-H Dairy Conference provides youth with a unique leadership experience and nationwide dairy industry contacts. Don’t delay in registering – forms and payment are due Aug. 19, 2016!

The 2015 National 4-H Dairy Conference delegation at Crave Brothers Farm in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Photo: Dave Winston.
The 2015 National 4-H Dairy Conference delegation at Crave Brothers Farm in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Photo: Dave Winston.

Every October, the national and international dairy industries gather in Madison, Wisconsin, to learn, celebrate and honor leaders at World Dairy Expo. World Dairy Expo offers a chance for dairy enthusiasts to network, see the latest technologies and, of course, view some of the best dairy cattle in the world. World Dairy Expo is not the only event in early October that draws an international audience to Madison. The National 4-H Dairy Conference is happening at the same time at the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus, Oct. 2-5, 2016.

In its 62nd year, the National 4-H Dairy Conference draws more than 200 youth from the United States and Canada together for this four-day conference. The conference offers youth a unique opportunity to meet and network with like-minded peers and adults, not only learning more about the dairy industry, but also seeing new career paths, leadership opportunities, ways to engage with the public and enjoying science.

The conference agenda is full with various tours around the greater Madison area, including ABS Global, the National Dairy Shrine, Nasco, W.D. Hoard & Sons printing company, Hoard’s Dairyman and Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. Numerous speakers join conference delegates at every meal, sharing insight on higher education, sharing agricultural stories, professional experiences in dairy and much more. It would not be a true dairy conference without a visit to dairy farms in Wisconsin! Conference delegates tour a small, father-son farm and Crave Brothers, a larger dairy and farmstead cheese operation.

The most unique aspect of this conference is youth delegates are not passive listeners, but rather they are active leaders from the moment they register. Every delegate has multiple tasks throughout the week to help ensure the conference runs smoothly. These may include assisting with travel planning for the day to ensure all will run smoothly, meeting and greeting speakers for the conference, creating and presenting thank-you baskets for sponsors, or helping with recreational activities to encourage delates to meet youth outside of their state delegations.

Mackenzie Delong of Lapeer County was a 2015 delegate whose trip was sponsored by the Michigan Milk Producers Association through the 4-H/MMPA Milk Marketing Tour. Reflecting on her experience at the National 4-H Dairy Conference, Delong said, “It was an amazing trip that I will never forget. I learned a lot about the different fields in the dairy industry. During the seminars, I was able to put my hand in the rumen of a cow and feel the stomach contractions. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone that wants to learn more about the opportunities in the dairy industry.”

The conference is open to 4-H youth who have been in the dairy project for at least three years, are between 15-18 years old as of Jan. 1, 2016, and are not exhibiting animals or participating in the judging contest at World Dairy Expo.

Youth interested in joining the National 4-H Dairy Conference Michigan delegation should contact Melissa Elischer, Michigan State Univserity Extension educator for 4-H Dairy Youth Programs, at elischer@anr.msu.edu or 517-432-4306 for details on conference fees, travel plans and registration information. Don’t delay! All registration forms and conference fees must be received by Friday, Aug. 19, 2016!

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