Delana Erbsen stands by a sign congratulating her for her success at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
Delana Erbsen stands by a sign congratulating her for her success at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. PHOTO SUBMITTED
When Delana Erbsen, of the Eastland FFA Chapter in northern Illinois, was named the winner of two breeds and oral reasons in the national Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Career Development Event, the answer to the question of who would be high overall individual seemed obvious: Delana would win the overall.
But a more surprising moment came when, several hours later, the high school senior’s cousin, Nevin Erbsen, was revealed as the second-place individual in the CDE.
The team also included another Erbsen cousin, Alyssa Miller, and Ella Gunderson. The team is coached by Wendy Erbsen and Rob Gunderson.
“To be honest, when the Brown Swiss cows came in, I did not think it was going to be a very good day,” said Delana, who ended up with 48 points out of 50 both in placings and reasons on the class. “I was expecting, after hearing I’d won two breeds and reasons, to be first or second. But an Indiana girl won the test portion of the contest, so she could have beat me.”
The top 10 individuals and top four teams were named in an afternoon classroom setting, but the final rankings were secret until being announced in front of many of the 57,000-plus attendees at the convention. As the top 10 individuals stood on stage at Lucas Oil Stadium and placings were announced, beginning with 10th, Nevin had no idea where he would land.
“I was like, ‘I’ll be in the top few,’ as they called off each placing,” he said. “Then they said someone else for third, and I thought, ‘Hey, we’re a one-two punch.’”
The contest includes placing six classes of cattle, delivering oral reasons and evaluating herd records. It was part of the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, Oct. 25-30.
Nevin, a junior, works at the dairy of teammate Ella Gunderson and on the one owned by his parents, Carl and Becky, and Delana’s parents, Kevin and Wendy.
Ella, a sophomore, was judging in a contest for only the second time. She said she struggled a bit with the short time allotted for classes.
“I haven’t been very confident in my reasons either, but the coaches are really helping me with that,” she said.
Alyssa Miller, who comes from an Angus beef background, gave credit to her coaches as well.
“They’re wonderful for giving tips and tricks,” said Miller, who is a freshmen in college.
Delana Erbsen said Eastland’s win was two years in the making.
“We’ve been working toward this ever since,” Delana said. “And, we couldn’t have done any better.”
The team from Maquoketa Valley FFA in northeast Iowa won third place, with team member Lane Domeyer, a junior from a farm that keeps show heifers, placing eighth as an individual. His teammates were senior Courtney Goedken, sophomore Haley Ronnebaum and Domeyer’s sister, sophomore Alia Domeyer. Jeannie Domeyer coaches the team with help from FFA advisor Haylee Lau and a number of local dairy farmers and judging alumni.
“My goal was to be in the top 20 individually and the top 10 as a team,” said Lane, who began judging in the fourth grade.
Tyler Ratka, a junior from ROCORI FFA in Minnesota, was ninth individual in the contest. His teammates, Craig and Darren Willenbring, and Amber Boulton earned a silver emblem ranking.
Each member of the top 10 individual group received cash awards.
Lane said his team is thinking of accepting the invitation to judge at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland, even though it would fall just before the Delaware County Fair. The top three teams are eligible to make the Scotland trip. The Illinois group is also considering the opportunity.
Both the Eastland and Maquoketa Valley dairy teams received a welcome home from the convention with a celebration of family and friends, complete with fire trucks escorting them into town Oct. 27.