September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Dairy's Star Youth: Megan and Matt Struss, Courtland, WI

Megan Struss, 18, is a senior at New Ulm High School. Her brother, Matt, will be 17 next week; he’s a junior at New Ulm High School. The Struss family lives near Courtland, Minn.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RUTH KLOSSNER
Megan Struss, 18, is a senior at New Ulm High School. Her brother, Matt, will be 17 next week; he’s a junior at New Ulm High School. The Struss family lives near Courtland, Minn.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RUTH KLOSSNER

Family members: Parents are Paul and Mary Struss.

What dairy or ag-related extracurricular activities are you involved in? Megan: I am a member of the Courtland 4-H. I show Brown Swiss and Holsteins at the Nicollet County Fair, the Minnesota State Fair and the Southern Minnesota Youth Dairy Show. I have been 4-H historian, secretary, treasurer and president and have been the county 4-H Federation secretary four years. I have been the captain of the dairy judging team and dairy bowl team and have presented dairy demonstrations at the county and state levels. I am the sentinel for the New Ulm FFA chapter. I am also the captain of the dairy judging team and have shown dairy at FFA shows. I am a 2014 Nicollet County dairy princess and had the opportunity of visiting the state capital to promote dairy and talk to local representatives about our county's dairy industry. I was also a county dairy ambassador in 2012 and 2013.
Matt: I have been a member of the Courtland 4-H Club. I have shown dairy at the Nicollet County Fair, the Minnesota State Fair and the Southern Minnesota Youth Dairy Show. I have been club reporter, historian, treasurer, president, and vice president and have been the county 4-H Federation treasurer for two years. I have been involved in dairy judging, dairy bowl and dairy demonstrations. This spring, I am planning a countywide livestock project day for new and young 4-Hers to learn how to prepare for the fair. I leased animals from our dairy farm to 4-Hers. I am the historian for the New Ulm FFA Chapter and participate in dairy judging and showing dairy.

Why are you involved in these activities/organizations and what is your favorite? Megan: I am a fourth generation 4-Her and my family was active in FFA, too. 4-H offers a variety of opportunities that I have enjoyed over the last 12 years. 4-H has challenged me to learn new skills and has taught me to go the extra mile to succeed. FFA offers a variety of ways to improve my leadership skills. The dairy industry has always been an important part of my life, whether I'm in the barn milking, showing dairy at the fair, or promoting dairy in the community.
Matt: Being involved in 4-H and FFA helps me to continue to improve my skills. My favorite part of 4-H and FFA is showing dairy at shows and fairs. I love spending time with my heifers and cows, caring for them and raising them. I find it very rewarding to build my own dairy herd. I sell the bull calves to purchase heifers, and I have taken out ag loans to purchase quality registered cows. I like the variety of each dairy breed and have owned and shown Holsteins, Red Holsteins, Jerseys, and Milking Shorthorns.

Tell us your best experience during your time in these activities/organizations. Megan: I am very proud to represent my county as a dairy princess. I enjoy my dairy appearances and promoting the dairy industry. I have earned 4-H achievement awards, the MN 4-H Key Award and the 2012 Nicollet County 4-H Outstanding Youth. In FFA, being named the 2014 Chapter Star Farmer meant a lot to me. I have worked hard with my dairy animals, caring for them and building my herd. I will receive my State FFA Degree later this month and am looking forward to that. I was pleased to be named the 2011 Holstein Association Outstanding Junior Girl and the 2014 Holstein Association Outstanding Senior Girl.
Matt: Receiving the fourth place dairy showmanship medal at the Minnesota State Fair 4-H show was exciting. Earning the 2013 Nicollet County Outstanding Youth Leader Award for countywide leadership was rewarding. In FFA, I received first in Dairy Production Entrepreneurship in the region for dedication and hours working on our dairy farm, as well as the number of dairy animals I own. I was proud to be named the Nicollet County Holstein Outstanding Junior Boy for 2011 and to earn the 2013 and 2014 Jersey Nugget Awards.

What's your favorite social media and why? Megan: Facebook because I can hear from friends and stay current with things.
Matt: The Internet because I like looking up dairy events, dairy sales, and dairy shows.

What are your career aspirations? Megan: I plan to attend South Dakota State University in Brookings this fall. I want to double major in dairy science and ag business.
Matt: Being involved in the dairy industry and being the sixth generation Struss dairy farmer.

What is something you've learned from being involved in these activities/organizations? Megan: I learned many leadership skills-responsibility, organization, patience, reliability, trustworthiness and dedication. I have also learned that mentoring younger youth in 4-H is very rewarding. I've had many opportunities to develop leadership skills through FFA by attending the WLC Washington D.C. Leadership Conference, SLCCL Leadership Camp, the 2012 and 2013 National FFA Conventions, and the 2012, 2013, and 2014 State FFA Convention.
Matt: Mentoring younger 4-Hers gives me the opportunity to share my dairy knowledge and experience. Last year, I started mentoring a special needs third grader and I am continuing this year. I helped him learn how to show one of my Jersey calves. I did a team dairy demonstration with this boy at the county level. I also helped him through a dairy interview, using photos we took at our farm. FFA offers me a variety of leadership skills through the leadership camps, conventions, and leadership days I have attended.

Who do you look up to and why? Megan: Since third grade, I have spent a lot of time with my dad, developing my dairy knowledge. He's taught me a lot about dairy, and I have many good memories of working with him. My mom has given me advice and support in the non-livestock projects and leadership roles I've had in the county. It has been a positive experience for me to have both parents supporting me and always being there for me.
Matt: My dad is very hard working and dedicated to the dairy industry. He took over the family farm when his dad passed away. He was 11. There aren't a lot of 11-year-olds that can do that. I also look up to experienced dairy farmers and my chapter FFA advisors, Mr. Jeff Nelson and Mr. Scott Stuckey.

Tell us something about yourself that many people don't know. Megan: I own 14 cows and 13 heifers in my own herd. I work at Running's in New Ulm after school and on the weekends.
Matt: I own 16 cows and 10 heifers. I also have a black and white bedroom.

Tell us some of your duties on the farm. Megan: I bottle-feeding calves and help with sire selection, DHI, hoof trimming, milking, registering dairy animals, dairy record keeping and working with show animals.
Matt: I feed calves and cows, help with sire selection, DHI, hoof trimming, milking, calving, herd health, vaccinating, dehorning, registering animals, dairy record keeping, heat detection and working with my show animals.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you change it? Megan: I would like people to know how healthy and nutritious dairy products are and how hard dairy farmers work to take care of their cows. I'd continue to have local county ADA boards and dairy princess programs to promote the dairy industry.
Matt: For people to understand how hard dairy farmers work to give quality care to their animals. I would promote dairy farmers working on their farms and have Midwest Dairy Council do more videos of real dairy farmers working.
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