Michigan 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl team brings home 3rd place in national contest

Four Michigan 4-H members competed at the 2021 North American Dairy Quiz Bowl in Louisville, KY.

Group of 7 people that are a 4-H team and holding their award.
Team members (back from left) Adalee Thelen, Joshua Tripp, Cristin Theisen, and Katelynn Webber with coaches (front, from left) Cathy Fry, Rodney Pennock, and Luann Learner, take a group photo before the contest begins. Photo courtesy of Donna M. Amaral-Phillips, Ph.D. University of Kentucky.

Four Michigan 4-H members from Clinton, Isabella, Osceola, and Ottawa Counties traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the 2021 North American Dairy Quiz Bowl Nov. 5-6, 2021 during the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE). The contest, in its 42nd year and hosted by the

University of Kentucky, college of agriculture, food, and environment, is an educational event for youth in 4-H. The 4-H organization is the youth development program of Michigan State University Extension and other land-grant institutions across the country.

Participants in the quiz bowl contest demonstrated their dairy cattle and agricultural knowledge in two competitive phases. Phase one on Friday night consisted of a written test each participant took to earn individual honors and to seed teams for the Saturday morning team event. In a double elimination bracket, each four-person team was in a head-to-head competition against another four-person team from a different state for the quickest reflexes to buzz in with the correct answer to a dairy science question. Questions in both the written and oral contest covered a wide variety of topics including dairy cattle nutrition, dairy cattle management with an automatic milking system, physiology, reproduction, and more.

Twelve teams competed in the quiz bowl contest this year. Michigan 4-H took home third place - the highest Michigan has ever placed in contest history! Team members Cristin Theisen of Isabella County, Adalee Thelen of Clinton County, Joshua Tripp of Ottawa County, and Katelynn Webster of Osceola County earned the chance to represent Michigan by participating in a state-wide dairy quiz bowl event held last July. From there, the team spent months learning material and preparing for the November competition. Several 4-H volunteers, including Cathy Fry of Isabella County, Luann Learner of Clinton County, and Rodney Pennock of Clinton County coached the team.

In addition to coming in third overall as a team, Tripp placed third and Thelen placed 10th as individuals on the written test. As part of preparation for the in-person contest, the team also participated in a virtual learning experience hosted by the University of Kentucky and NAILE in October. Michigan was one of four teams who were given a practical, farm-based scenario related to a hypothetical herd’s nutrition program to analyze and then submit a short, written report on the team’s findings and recommendations.

The 4-H youth development program of MSU Extension is growing current and future leaders. The largest youth development organization in Michigan, 4-H provides more than 200,000 young people with experiential learning opportunities to explore new interests and discover their passions. 

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