Clinton County 4-H members compete at 2019 North American Invitational 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl

Youth traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to represent Michigan at the 40th annual national dairy quiz bowl contest.

Michigan 4-H national quiz bowl team
The Michigan 4-H national quiz bowl team from Clinton County. Back from left: Madison Halfman, Carla Hicks, Kassidy Thelen and Adalee Thelen. Front from left: Coach Rod Pennock, Coach Luann Learner and Ian Black. Photo by the University of Kentucky.

The North American International Livestock Exposition marks the final national educational contest of the 4-H dairy year. North American Invitational 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl, hosted by the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Kentucky, brings together 4-H members and coaches from across the U.S. to demonstrate their vast dairy knowledge in a fast-paced, double elimination contest.

The event starts on a Friday night with a written quiz, which determines how the teams will be seated in the brackets for the next morning. Following the written exam, there is a pizza party for teams to meet and mingle with each other. Often, youth and coaches are familiar with peers from other academic contests, such as dairy judging or dairy management.

The teams have an early night so they are ready for a battle of the buzzers the next morning. Based on the brackets, teams face off in a series of questions where they must buzz in to provide an answer. If correct, points are awarded; if incorrect, the opposing team has a chance to answer. After five team questions and 20 toss-up questions, points are totaled and the teams move on to the winners’ or losers’ bracket. After two losses, the team is eliminated from the contest and is free to watch other rounds to see which state comes out the victor.

In 2019, youth from Clinton County represented Michigan at the national contest. This team placed second during the state contest held at Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days the previous July. The first place team from Allegan County was unable to make the trip south this year. Team members from Clinton County were Ian Black, Madison Halfman, Kassidy Thelen, Carla Hicks and Adalee Thelen; they were coached by Michigan State University Extension 4-H volunteers Rod Pennock and Luann Learner. The team did not place in the top five but had a great learning experience at the contest.

In addition to competing, the Michigan team honored Dr. Kathy Lee. Lee was an MSU Extension dairy educator based in Missaukee County who loved dairy quiz bowl. She was the lead moderate for the state contest, as well as serving on the national committee for the past 19 years. Lee passed away in May and her absence is felt among contest participants.

The Clinton County team wore polo shirts with a cow and Lee’s name embroidered. Lee was also recognized during the awards banquet at the national contest to honor her memory and contributions to the 4-H dairy project over throughout her career.

Michigan Quiz Bowl t-shirt
The Clinton County team honored the memory of Dr. Kathy Lee, a long-time support of the Michigan and national dairy quiz bowl contests. Lee passed away in May 2019. Photo by Rod Pennock.

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