Dairy Youth Events at the 2010 Ohio State Fair

Mrs. Bonnie Ayars, Extension Dairy Program Specialist, The Ohio State University

No other singular event in Ohio does more to promote positive youth development than the Ohio State Fair.  With livestock, we have an even more unique opportunity to “tell our story” to consumers.

2010 is recorded, but it was certainly one to remember for dairy youth.  Whether it was the skillathons, judging clinics, or the OSU judging teams managing the parlor, it was more than an annual event; it was a learning experience!

The dairy business has been challenging, but we continue to bring out youth to become involved in the Extension programs designed to educate the next generation.  Have hope, something positive is happening with these kids.


In the past three years, we have only offered one dairy skillathon!  However, this year, we returned to one offered during the first portion of the fair and another during the second week.  This method was used to accommodate each of the breed rotations that exhibit at the fair 

Emerging as one of the largest skillathons at the fair, there were 128 kids that completed all of the challenging stations associated with topics such as cattle selection and reproduction, equipment and calf management, nutrition, animal welfare issues, and health.  It takes an “army” of loyal volunteers to manage such an event. 

At the conclusion of the second one, results were tabulated and awards presented.  One individual earned a perfect score.  Mark Gordon (Wayne County) was the recipient of the overall dairy skillathon winner after being named tops in the 14 year old age division.  It was an amazing accomplishment!

If you are interested in any of our content that tests dairy aptitude, do not hesitate to contact me.  All results of the dairy skillathon can be reviewed by clicking on this link http://4hansci.osu.edu/skillathon/dairy.php.

Dairy Judging Clinics

Our State 4-H dairy judging contest is held during Spring Dairy Expo, so we conduct clinics at the Ohio State Fair.  Again, we hold two of these because of the rotation of breeds for dairy cattle.  They are more than clinics, but also competitions in which top winners can earn premium money.  Some can attend both, and yet others can only make the trip once.  We announce winners for each week and post the results for two age divisions.junior and senior.  Nearly 100 individual prospective judges stood on the tanbark to test their skills.  Seniors are required to give reasons, while I provide some basic guidance to junior participants on how to compose reasons.  These clinics also provide the premise for the selection of 4-H teams at the fall contests.

Again, another loyal army of volunteers is on hand to assist with registration, serve as officials, evaluate reasons, and also to tabulate scores.  It is not a simple process, but one that uses valuable time to teach about dairy cattle evaluation.

I also must extend a big thank you to all the exhibitors who so willingly allow us to use their cattle for the classes.  It is good to have them as contributors, leaders, and observers.  This makes it a multi-generational event!

Results for the contest are attached here for juniors and here for seniors.  There are junior and senior scores for each of the two clinics, plus the overall winners.  If you know any of these youth, give them a vote of confidence by commending them for their efforts.

The Milking Parlor

It is a unique opportunity for college students to learn as they manage the parlor during the Ohio State Fair.  Some days, the parlor must be open nearly 12 to 15 hours to accommodate the needs of the many shows.  The facility at the Ohio State Fair is nearly 40 years old and the equipment had a tendency to alert us to that this year.  There were two major mechanical issues, but Prengers was on hand each time to make sure that the parlor was up and running at the hours posted.  Problematic as it was, the venture was successful and the judging teams earned money to assist with their travels.

Many thanks to the dairy staff at the fair for their assistance and support as well as John Spreng and Stacey French associated with the Ohio State Fair.  I would also like to mention that our direct communication with the consumer whether near the parlor, in the aisle of the dairy barn, or at the “I Milked a Cow”, was a priceless opportunity to display our pride in what we do with cows.