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Rice County dairy judges second at Madison

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:15 PM

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MADISON, Wisc. — Rice County 4-H dairy judges placed second in the nation in their first appearance at World Dairy Expo in 16 years.

Rice County last sent a dairy judging team to expo in 1996, the year Maizie (Pieper) Scheffler was on the team. She and Tony Scheffler, who later became her husband, began coaching the county's dairy judging team in 1997. Maizie's sister, Maria Pieper, is another team coach. Their younger sister, Emily, is on this year's team and she placed fifth overall at Madison.

All four of the team members placed in the top 25 and were recognized as All-American dairy judges, Maizie said. In addition to Emily, team members are Mary Liebenstein, David Trcka and Dennisen Nelson.

"I was really happy with how we did and everything," Emily said. "Even getting second whatever, I don't regret placing the classes how I placed them."

She said she had a feeling about how they did, but when she found out, she was speechless.

"The kids were so excited," Maizie said. "It's a big deal. You're judging with the best of the best."

The Rice County 4-H'ers judged the morning of Oct. 1. They judged 10 classes and gave five sets of reasons. They judged a class of cows and heifers in Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein and Jersey. Thirty-one teams from around the country competed.

"It was a long day, but it all paid off in the end," Liebenstein said in an email. "We started at 8 in the morning and didn't finish reasons until 4:30 that afternoon. It was a lot of fun to be able to look at such good cattle all day and to be able to experience a different aspect of the World Dairy Expo."

"You get to see some really nice cows at competitions," added Nelson, a junior who is homeschooled. He lives on a 70-cow Jersey farm in Lonsdale.

Liebenstein, a University of Minnesota freshman, lives on a Dundas dairy farm. Trcka is a high school senior at Tri-City United and he lives on a dairy farm near Montgomery. Emily is a junior at Tri-City United High School and she lives on a dairy farm near New Prague.

In addition to placing second overall, the team placed second in reasons with the same score as the No. 1 team.

They have gotten better and better on reasons, Emily said, and usually do pretty good.

Liebenstein and Nelson next compete at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 3. The entire team was invited to participate in the Royal Highland Show in Scotland next summer, and they will decide soon if they will make the trip.

The team earned the chance to compete at World Dairy Expo by placing first in the state. Last year, the Rice County 4-H team placed second in state. That team included: Liebenstein, Trcka and Emily and Maria Pieper.

The judges on this year's state-winning team and the No. 2 team in the nation have known each other through judging for the past seven or eight years, Maizie Scheffler said. It's the first year all four of them have been together on a team.

"Between the four of us, we have been competitively judging cows for about 30 years," Nelson said.

Team members practice weekly at farms starting in mid-June. Each individual had five practices before the state fair. They had one competition at the Steele County Free Fair before judging at the Minnesota State Fair on Sept. 2.