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South Winn FFA team judges in Scotland

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 07/24/2013 4:25 PM

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DECORAH, Iowa —Years of practice has paid off for the South Winneshiek FFA's Dairy Judging Team.

The team of Mariah Schmitt, Karla Hageman, Cassidy Buddenberg and Ben Hanson finished third at the National FFA Convention last October and qualified to compete at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June.

They wrote letters to businesses, farmers and organizations seeking donations. Response was great with seven donors contributing $1,000 each. They hosted donkey basketball and organized a fundraising luncheon for farmers featuring Hanson's uncle, Phil Plourd of Blimling Associates, who talked about ag markets and the future. They raised enough to pay for their trip plus half their chaperones' costs.

Hageman's mother and Buddenberg's father accompanied the group.

They left June 19 and returned July 3. The first part was spent in Scotland preparing for dairy judging at the Royal Highland.

"They do judging quite a bit differently in Scotland than we do here," Buddenberg said. "They only allow five minutes for each class. We usually get 15 minutes."

Judging teams are required to wear white lab coats.

"We judged two classes of Holsteins, one of Jerseys and one of Ayrshires," Hanson said. "Their cows are smaller framed with more body capacity."

They don't know how they did yet because there were computer problems, and just the top two individuals were announced. They competed against teams from California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, Michigan and New York. Each team was divided in two so there were 14 total teams. U.S. teams competed against U.S. teams, and European teams against Europeans.

When they finished in Scotland, they headed to London for two days of touring. From London they took a ferry to Ireland where they spent the final week of their trip. They visited a sheep farm, five dairy farms and a sale barn.

Most farms had Friesians and Holstein-Jersey cross cows. All the operations were seasonal grazing farms that dried up their cows in winter.

"I liked Ireland the most," said Hanson, who plans to study agricultural engineering after high school. "The countryside is very nice."

His parents are Brian and Rachel Hanson.

Buddenberg's parents are Bruce and Julie. She will attend Iowa State University to major in dairy science this fall.

Schmitt's parents are Carl and Terry. She will attend ISU this fall to major in dairy science and public service and administration in agriculture.

Hageman, daughter of Ruth and Alan Hageman, enjoyed staying with an Irish host family.

"We'd like to thank our sponsors and everyone who coached, supported and encouraged us," Schmitt said.

"Our parents took us to lots of practices and competitions," Hageman said.