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4-H Dairy Club puts cows front and center

More moo for you
David Schultheis and his girlfriend, Lucy Naples, display their awards after the conclusion of the Dairy Show at the 2023 Big Butler Fair. Submitted photo
But members learn valuable life lessons as well

The name of the Butler County 4-H Dairy Club might simply bring to mind the cows shown at the Butler Farm Show every year.

While teaching members about the dairy cow and the dairy industry are among the club’s top priorities, leader Janice Kennedy said organization is about much more.

“The kids grow through the program,” Kennedy said. “They do elect officers, so they learn a parliamentary system and procedures.”

Members also complete a demonstration every year to practice public speaking and to become strong-minded adults who are comfortable voicing opinions, she added.

But learning about dairy cows remains the dairy club’s chief task.

Kennedy said the children are taught what the judges seek in conformation, bone structure and other characteristics that fulfill the “type” of dairy cow.

Some members raise their cows from birth, and others purchase them to show. The youngest class at present is the spring calf class. The calves are now about 3 months old.

“Some have the same cow throughout the entire program,” Kennedy said, with some of the cows being between 6 to 7 years old.

Ryleigh Henry, 17, president of the 4-H Dairy Club, has been a member since she was 8 years old. She has enjoyed building personal skills that help her pursue her goals, including leadership. Her membership has allowed her to attend 4-H leadership conferences, she said.

She also enjoys inspiring and mentoring younger members. At the farm show, she enjoys seeing how 4-H members have grown by having participated in multiple projects.

“You get to know them on a personal level, so it’s cool to see how we all grow together,” Henry said.

The club, which meets monthly, is involved in community service and outreach projects.

“For our May meeting, we cleaned up Brush Creek Park in Beaver County,” Henry said.

David Schultheis, 19, who has been a member of the Dairy Club for 11 years, said his favorite part of his membership has been showing cows.

David Schultheis’ family won the competition for Supreme Champion Dairy Cow of the Dairy Show at the 2023 Big Butler Fair. The cow, a Brown Swiss winter calf, is named Four Seasons Stretch Juliet. Submitted photo

His experience gained through the club has allowed him to expand his show abilities to participate in state and national events.

He said his favorite part of the farm show, itself, is competing with friends he’s made throughout his 4-H years.

“It allows us a chance to be serious and show one another what we’re made of,” Schultheis said. “But after, we get to have fun and celebrate each other.”

His kinship with fellow 4-H Dairy Club members has helped him grow personally and nurture his businesses through the knowledge he’s gained about the industry, he said.

“It has allowed me to have a place where I can focus on the dairy industry and talk about it, and it allows us to have a voice of commitment to the industry,” Schultheis said.

“It gives us a chance to express our feelings towards the industry and raise awareness of its importance.”

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