Guiding kids to show ring success

Lundy shares love for showing with local youth

JEFFERSON, Wis. – For Deb Lundy, helping non-farm kids learn how to show cattle is a treasured pastime. More than 20 years ago, she opened up her farm to area youth wishing to show dairy animals at the county fair. Not only does Lundy let them borrow the animal free of charge, she teaches them, step-by-step, the secrets of properly caring for and showing an animal. And as a result, every kid she has ever worked with has never earned less than a blue ribbon.
“This is an opportunity for kids to be involved with 4-H and the dairy side of agriculture,” Lundy said Lundy. “While putting in the work to care for an animal, they get a different look at the dairy industry and farming in general and also get to have a little fun at the same time.”
Lundy, who has assisted 25 kids, farms with her husband, Scott, and their daughter and son, Megan and Mark. The family milks 60 cows near Jefferson. Megan and Mark are Lundy’s sidekicks, helping their mom train and work with kids who are interested in showing cattle. Megan started the Cream of the Crop 4-H club in 2000.
“We knew kids who did not live on a farm but wanted to show animals at the fair, so they started out showing sheep and chickens for us,” Lundy said. “We no longer have sheep, but we still have the chickens.”
Soon, 4-H kids and neighbor kids were asking to show cattle, and word of Lundy’s services spread. This year, Lundy worked with her largest group ever – six 16-year-old girls who attend Jefferson High School. Ali Werning, Emily Boucher, Rachel Simonson, Alexis Dobson and Libby Krause are on their second year of working with Lundy, while Keirah Sterwald is new to the group this year. None of the girls come from a farm.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group,” Lundy said. “They all chip in and do their part, and they’re smart as whips.”
All the girls are friends and learned about the opportunity from their agriculture teacher, Gary Olson, who also taught Megan and Mark during their first year of high school.
Boucher has plans to become a large animal veterinarian.
“I love animals, and that’s why I wanted to do this,” Boucher said.
Dobson agreed.
“I love cows,” she said.
Sterwald views it as a fun experience and a chance to meet new people.
During the Jefferson County Fair July 13-17, the Cream of the Crop 4-H club exhibited 20 animals – 18 of which came from the Lundy farm – the most they have ever exhibited. A total of 160 animals competed in the dairy show at this year’s fair. Lundy’s club had 17 champions and a quality milk award winner. Holstein, Red and White Holstein, Milking Shorthorn, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Brown Swiss breeds filled her show string.  
“We have a little bit of everything,” Lundy said.
The kids come once a week in the summer to learn how to lead and care for their animals.
Their only cost is paying the fair entry fee for their animal. Lundy pays for everything else, including the cost of having the animals clipped.
“We usually start in April, but this year, it was a little later because of the weather,” Lundy said.
“The first day they came out to the farm last year, I had a cow and a calf in the barn for them to lead. Each girl led a calf, but when it was time to lead the cow, they had this fear in their eyes. She was a big cow, but she’s also been shown before.”
Each girl halter broke her own calf and learned how to wash and feed the animals along with other tasks that have to be done at the fair.
“I tried to pick the right calf for the right kid,” Lundy said. “It took a while to get it straightened out and get everyone perfectly matched. (Dobson) is so tall, so I had to find the right height animal for her. I tried to get everyone in a different class so they weren’t competing with each other. (Simonson) got the toughest one that no one else could lead, but she did real good with it.”
Last year, each girl showed one animal except for Simonson who showed two. This year, each girl showed two or three animals, and Krause showed the Guernsey she showed last year. Two of the girls showed cows.
“I told them what the judge looks for, and we practiced different scenarios,” Lundy said. “I also switched calves with them because that can happen during a show too.”
In addition, Lundy took them to a show to watch other kids show so she could point out different things – both good and bad – and offer tips on what they could do to make their calf look better.
“They caught on real fast,” Lundy said.
Lundy has been showing cattle for 55 years. Originally from Illinois, she has shown at the Jefferson County Fair since 1987 and has also shown at the state fair and World Dairy Expo. In 2001, the Lundys had the Red and White champion at WDE.
Lundy devotes countless hours to helping the kids both on the farm and at the fair. She is there to assist where needed and offer advice to the girls, who stay at the fair the entire time along with one of the Lundy family members.
“Megan or Mark are always here, and I go back and forth to do chores on the farm,” Lundy said. “But I would not be afraid to leave the girls here on their own. They know what they’re doing.”
Last year, everyone got a blue ribbon with a couple earning top in their class and several walking away as champions. Simonson also won the Miss Q Quality milk award with her animal. Krause’s Guernsey won junior champion and reserve grand champion, while Werning took reserve junior champion.
“I originally told these girls that I can get them the blue ribbon; they each have the animal to do it, but they have to lead her well,” Lundy said. “They also did good in showmanship last year for it being their first year. They discovered that cows have personalities, and they got attached to their animals.”
It was a learning experience for all who participated as the girls realized their expectations about showing were different than reality.
“I didn’t realize how much work goes into it,” Boucher said.
Krause agreed.
“It was very eye opening,” she said.
Involved in sports like volleyball, soccer, track, swimming, cross-country and basketball, these new showmen are used to competition but of a different kind.
“You have to work with your animal,” Werning said. “They don’t just lead on their own.”
Lundy has a knack for matching up the right animal to the right kid.
“If an animal won’t hold her head up for a particular kid, then I have to switch,” she said.
In addition to learning the basics of showing, Lundy also encourages those she mentors to embrace other aspects of the farm. Last year, she invited each girl to come to the farm to milk a cow. And this year, a couple of them had the opportunity to stick their hand inside of a cow ready to give birth so they could feel the calf.
“I thought it was cool,” Krause said.
Lundy is passionate about sharing her farm and her animals with local youth and is proud of her enthusiastic students who give 100 percent to their 4-H projects. Guiding kids to success in the show ring while teaching skills useful for all parts of life is a challenge Lundy looks forward to each year.


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