For an entire century, Holstein Association U.S.A. has encouraged next-generation dairy leaders through its annual Distinguished Junior Members Award Competition.  Advancing as a Holstein U-S-A Distinguished Junior Member finalist is a big deal.  In fact, it’s the highest honor give to young adults in the National Junior Holstein Association.


"That really opened – just threw the doors open to the dairy industry for me and I’ve been growing ever since," noted Corey Geiger.  He eventually went on to become Holstein Association USA’s President.  The annual competition he’s talking about is based on commitments young people make to learning about the dairy industry and developing their leadership potential.  Current D.J.M finalist, Blake Wright said the competition helped him carve-out his unique future in the dairy industry.


"I’ve really gotten interested in kind of that intersection between dairy and agriculture and public policy. And that’s allowed me to really fine tune my skills in that area and even complete some internships towards that as well, and I feel like that’s really been the most rewarding part of being in the dairy industry as a farmer’s kid, but also just a general advocate for the black and white.”


Twelve semifinalist, who demonstrate a passion for Holstein cows through various projects, interviews, and public speaking, are selected form the state level to compete in the finalists contest during the association’s annual convention.  After judging the semifinalists, six are awards as finalists.


Hannah Hockerman is now one of them: "It feels great knowing that I’m in the same company as some of these other youth who are great leaders and role models in the industry.”


One of the biggest considerations in choosing D.J.M semifinalists and finalists is a book each contestant keeps that tracks their lifetime involvement with registered Holstein cows, and their views about the industry, a sort of journal that they present to the judges.


“It’s really cool being able to look back at my project. It’s kind of like a timeline or a little book of what I’ve gone through and how I’ve become who I am.” Geiger noted.  “I actually read my book yesterday while I was here.


Now – in its hundredth year – the Distinguished Junior Member awards competition continues to build new leaders in the ever-evolving dairy industry.  Over the years, almost 400 finalists have been recognized.


“We are still being able to produce strong, hardworking leaders in the industry with this program and it’s amazing to be a part of the hundredth year.” “It’s one of the longest running junior award competitions of the dairy industry, and it’s really the pinnacle of Junior Holstein work.”


The six Distinguished Junior Member finalists each receive an adult membership with Holstein Association U.S.A.   Click on Holstein USA's Website to learn more.


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