Don’t Flunk Life

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I saw this image awhile back and I 100% agreed with it. I will be the first to admit that my grades are not always tip top and yes I have struggled with some classes. I will also admit that I don’t study nearly enough and I try to spend as little time in the library as possible. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t change the way I went about my college career.

When I’m not at school I’m usually at the farm or going home to see family or at a cow event. And this is all perfectly fine with me! When I look back on my college experience I am pretty confident that I will look back and remember all the opportunities outside of the classroom I took, all the friends and fun memories I made and maybe some of the professors who I could relate too. I am also pretty positive that I won’t remember the grade I got in Chemistry my freshman year (in fact I can’t even remember that now). So when I hear people grumbling about getting a B in class I have to chuckle. Unless you’re trying to be a vet, doctor or lawyer I really don’t think that B is going to make or break you. You are getting a degree from one of the best universities in the nation (if you’re a Badger!) and if you’re lucky will graduate with a job!

So with that being said here is a bit of senioritis advice that I truly think will help make your college career a great one!

1) Internships! Get as many as possible with any industry and company, the more diverse the better! This is the perfect time to see what you like and don’t like, where you want to work and where you don’t. In my case, if you can work behind a desk all day or if you can’t…in case you were wondering, I can’t…shocking development! Experience is going to shine through your resume a lot more than a silly number that shows you showed up to class (you probably did a lot more than that but you get the picture).

2) Activities! And I mean like school ones, not the drinking ones, although those aren’t always bad either. Get involved in student organizations, find a community you fit into, make friends! I feel like I sound like my mom, but all is true. Find somewhere that feels like “home”. It will make your college career go by with a lot less anxiety and a lot more fun.

3) School Work! Why in the hell am I saying this after I said I didn’t? Well I am definitely not a role model in the student department but I do see the value in spending some time getting your work done and studying for exams because trust me, failing an exam is not fun.

4) Adventure! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Go on a trip, meet new people and do something that actually scares you! I know, very cliche but honestly it’s where the best memories are made! This is the age and the time to travel, miss some classes, so something without planning and do things that you won’t tell your parents.

5) Be Positive! Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned throughout my college career is to brush off what people say. You can be friends with someone for years and suddenly things just don’t seem the same, people change and sometimes that change includes you and sometimes it doesn’t. You change as well and if people are meant to be in your life they will stay and make an effort to do so and if not you will tell by their absence. Keep positive people around you, no one like a negative Nancy, and surround yourself with people who lift you up.

6) Finally…Party! Go out and have a few, blow off some steam. Sometimes it’s more necessary to go and drink a bottle of wine than to study for your quiz in the morning. Taking an exam hungover is sometimes inevitable. But really, did you expect me not to recommend this??

So in conclusion, enjoy your college career, do what makes you happy and be with people who make you a better person. If something or someone doesn’t do this, get rid of it!

Agricultural Organizations

With the last few weeks of school wrapping up I have had time to reflect on my college career. What I concluded was that all of my best memories were made while I was participating in an organization activity. As expected, most of my extra circulars involved an Ag based organization. But I think that’s pretty unique, to go to a Big Ten university and have a whole college dedicated to Agriculture with  numerous organizations that promote the industry. You don’t see that everyday.

So what organizations did I spend most of my time in? Well first would be the Badger Dairy Club, one of the largest student orgs on campus actually! It is an organization that has a large alumni support and a membership filled with hard working, professional and passionate individuals. I have never in my entire life been surrounded by more well rounded peers. Unfortunately this past year was a bit of a rocky road for BDC due to unforeseen circumstances last year but I am proud to say that I was part of the team that got BDC back on track. In this club I met some of my best friends, I have built my resume and have traveled across the US and Canada to see some of the greatest farms in North America.

Another activity that I spent a lot of time in was Dairy Judging. When you go to class to tell them that you won’t be there due to being on the UW-Madison Dairy Judging team you usually get some kind of side glance (for those not in the ag school). I usually try to compare it to the row team or something to that extent. My judging experience was pretty unique, as a freshmen coming in we had brand new coaches, Chad Wethal and Brain Kelroy. Throughout  the years we consistently got better and better. We traveled from the Mid West to the East Coast, won contests throughout and finally when our last and most important contest came around, we won. It was an extra special moment because it was our coaches first team they had from the beginning and well, we won a damn national title! Judging was probably my most favorite extra curricular and I would encourage anyone to go out for the team, you will not regret your time.

And finally, the last organization I spent a great deal of time in is the Association of Women in Agriculture, a professional sorority on campus that creates an environment for like minded women all sharing a passion for agriculture. I met all of my girlfriends through AWA, even lived in the AWA house with 25 other girls! Being able to go to a place where you can talk to a fellow sister and can get help on any issue is a reassuring feeling when you live away from your family.

So to say the least, although I am sad that my time at Madison is coming to an end, I couldn’t have had a better experience. And because of the opportunities these organizations gave me I feel prepared and excited for the next chapter in my life. These organizations helped shape me into the woman I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful to be apart of their membership.

4 Lessons Dairy Judging Taught Me

I started judging dairy cattle through the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association when I was 10. I remember going to practices once a week, listening to the older juniors give reasons and being terrified to have to do that, I remember going over the basics with my coach every practice and asking a lot of questions. Since then not much has changed, I still went to regular practices, I still asked a lot of questions, I still practiced my reasons, a bit more vigorously though and we still regularly went over the basics. But in the 10 years of my judging career I definitely learned a lot, and not just what a good cow looks like.

Public Speaking

One of the biggest benefits I got from my years of dairy judging was becoming comfortable talking to complete strangers. And trust me, I was not always good at this (although many would say I can talk until I run out of air). It wasn’t actually until I started collegiate judging that I started to get comfortable. I decided to really buckle down; I listened to the senior’s sets of reasons, I asked for advice from my coaches and I was my biggest critic.

As I became older my reasons got better and better, I became the WI Holstein Association Princess in 2012 where I had to talk to the public constantly. On my first public appearance I realized I wasn’t even nervous because I figured, what I said to them was what I felt was the truth and what was my own opinion, if they disagreed, well so be it but hopefully I convinced them otherwise. And when I realized, that’s exactly what I do in reasons!

To relate this to the “real world”, back in October I had my first big girl interview. I traveled to Indianapolis for 8 interviews in one day and to present a power point all about myself to a conference room filled with other candidates and interviewers. Now I don’t know about you, but I think the most awkward thing to talk about is yourself. But as I started my presentation, I realized many of the other candidates seemed a lot more nervous than I. When I got to the page in my presentation about extra curricular activities, judging was the first thing that came up, I smiled and felt a overwhelming calm because I had done this plenty before. The only difference was that in judging I’m selling a cows udder, dairyness, strength, etc. and in this I was selling my intelligence, my passion, my abilities and my personality. And in case you were wondering…(drum roll please) I got the job!

Be Consistent in your Efforts

“Practices makes perfect.” Cliché I know…but if you have ever judged in a contest or even at a show, I am sure you know that perfection rarely occurs. But practice can get you pretty consistent and get you close to that “perfect contest”. During our judging season we had practices every weekend, like, I didn’t even make it to a football game this year (my liver is thanking you coaches), and we had at minimum one reasons practice during the week. So to say the least, it consumes your life for the first half of the semester. However, on behalf of my entire team, I believe we are more than thankful for all this time spent on the Bucky Bus and traveling throughout the Mid-West.

Our first contest, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, we took second place team overall and first place tam in oral reasons. We took this momentum to the next step. As a senior your dream is to judge at World Dairy Expo, our team not only had the privilege to judge on the color shavings but also to win the contest! We became National Champions.

I was overwhelmed by our team but even more when I was announced as the High Individual Overall. Practice and being around my teammates made us all think in a very consistent manor and all that hard work and dedication definitely paid off in the end. We were on cloud nine, well, still are!

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Coach Brian Kelroy, myself, Cassie Endres, Mackenzie Cash, Mariah Fjarlie & Coach Chad Wethal

http://dysci.wisc.edu/uw-madison-dairy-judging/

Gain Connections

After being announced as the High Individual of the contest I was walking to receive my award when a coach from a different team stepped out to shake my hand and said to me, “Your grandfather managed my family’s herd dispersal and I can tell you right now, he would be so proud of you.” As you can imagine; that’s when the tears started flowing. But this was also the moment I was so incredibly grateful to be apart of such a close-knit industry.

Our team was fortunate enough to become quite close with the team from Cornell. Being able to meet others competing in the same contests is half the fun. These are the people I will be working with as I grow in my career. Everyone at these contests have very similar passions and it’s a great opportunity to get to know other individuals who you know you will be running into later on in life.

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The UW-Madison and Cornell team took first and second at the national contest and we needed to get a picture together!

And finally, after the contest it was amazing the amount of people congratulating us and introducing themselves to us. It was a great honor to win, but I think it was a greater honor to be able to meet so many influential leaders within the dairy industry who wanted to congratulate us. If I could give any advice to those in collegiate dairy judging it would be to take the great opportunity it gives you to meet others within the dairy industry. Get to know the farmers of the operations you visit, your competitors, team members and coaches, the officials of contest and those that are working in the barn.

Stay Positive

Just like anything you attempt in life, you may have some off days. I can remember in a practice this fall we were in Illinois and it was hot and sunny and we were all a bit tired. For some reason I just did not see the cows the way my teammates or coaches did, and to be honest I was pissed. Not at my coaches or at my teammates but at myself. I mean why didn’t I see it that way?! However, I did have reasons for the way I placed it and when I told my coaches they agreed that that also made sense but they would still disagree with my placing.

Well how many times do you go to a show and hear someone disagree with the placing? Quite often. But that’s the perk about being the judge; on that day it’s your opinion. As long as you are confident in what you saw you can’t take what others say directly to heart. Everyone has their right to their own opinion!

Through dairy judging I’ve learned many life lessons, but these four have stuck with me throughout the past 10 years. If you or anyone you know may have an interest in this traditional dairy activity I encourage you to join and take advantage of all the opportunities dairy judging brings your way!

Oh and ON WISCONSIN!

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The seniors of the UW-Madison Dairy Judging Team. We were on our way to Arethusa Farm in Connecticut.