STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association celebrated the achievements of its members at the annual junior convention Jan. 3-5 in Stevens Point. Junior Holstein enthusiasts from across Wisconsin gathered to take part in activities and contests.
    The association’s top junior awards, the Wisconsin Outstanding Holstein Boy and Girl, were presented to Colin Uecker, of Watertown, and Kalista Hodorff, of Eden.
    Uecker, 20, is the son of Bill and Michelle Uecker and is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in dairy science with a minor certificate in ag business. He is involved in the Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He is also a member of the school’s dairy judging team.
    This summer Uecker will be a marketing intern for ST Genetics which is a career path he is hoping to pursue following graduation. He also plans to continue to grow his Stormy Ridge Holsteins herd and continue to show, develop and market registered Holsteins.
    “I still can’t believe that I was named Holstein Boy,” Uecker said. “It was something I never expected to achieve.”
    Uecker helped on his grandparent’s 100 cow dairy farm when he was young before beginning to work at Rosy-Lane Holsteins near Watertown. During that time, he became exposed to showing registered dairy cattle and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association.
    “I have gotten a lot out of being a junior Holstein member, but the most important thing to me would be the new people I have met and the friendships I have made with those people,” Uecker said.
    As a junior member, Uecker enjoyed taking part in dairy judging and participating in shows. He said he has learned a great deal about the industry from mentors Nick Sarbacker and Ryan Krohlow.
    “Nick and Ryan have helped me out a lot in the past 10 years, teaching me about fitting, showing and preparing dairy cattle, and a lot of industry knowledge,” Uecker said. “But more than that, they have taught me a lot about the whole idea of sportsmanship.”
    Uecker encourages youth to never give up on themselves and to persevere through hard work and dedication.
    “Anything is possible as long as you set achievable goals for yourself,” Uecker said. “I would encourage kids to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to them.”
    Hodorff, 20, is the daughter of Corey and Tammy Hodorff. Her family milks 1,000 cows at Second-Look Holsteins. Hodorff is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is majoring in dairy science with future hopes of working in the dairy industry and returning home to her family’s farm.
    Hodorff serves as the sentinel for the Association of Women in Agriculture and is an active member of the Badger Dairy Club where she held the position of milkhouse chair at last fall’s World Dairy Expo.
    “When I heard my name announced, I was completely speechless for a while,” Hodorff said. “I really didn’t know what to say. I’m so grateful for this organization and the opportunities it presents for youth to grow and develop outside of their comfort zone.”
    Involvement in the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association has been a lifelong pursuit for Hodorff, and this junior convention marked the 11th one she has attended. Hodorff was a 2016 recipient of the National Younger Distinguished Junior Member award and was a 2019 National Distinguished Junior Member Finalist.
    Hodorff said without the support and backing of her parents and family, she would not have reached the accomplishments she has thus far in life.
    “My family is always there for me, and I’m so grateful for all they do at home while I’m gone to school or other activities,” Hodorff said.
    Hodorff also looks up to fellow Fond du Lac County Holstein breeders Kurt and Sarah Loehr as mentors and providing her with inspiration.
    “Kurt and Sarah are like second parents to me,” Hodorff said. “They have always encouraged me to try new things. They have served in many leadership roles in our county and have helped many young members grow and develop.”
    One of the most important things Hodorff would offer as advice to younger members is to get involved in the activities offered through membership in the junior Holstein organization and to challenge themselves.
    “The first contest I entered when I was 9 was something very new for me,” Hodorff said. “But it was the best piece of advice I ever got, to try something new. It is so important for junior members to come together and take advantage of the learning opportunities available to them.”
    In addition to Uecker and Hodorff, Wisconsin Distinguished Junior Member awards were presented to Jenna Broege and Nicole Broege of Janesville; McKenna Coffeen, of DePere; Eliza Endres, of Waunakee; Hannah Hockerman, of Westfield; Kaianne Hodorff, of Eden; Mason Jauquet, of Pulaski; Ben Kronberg, of Milton; Rachel McCullough, of Juda; Hannah Nelson, of Ellsworth; Dawson Nickels, of Watertown; Lauren Siemers, of Kiel; and Fritzy Ullom and Hannah Ullom of Bloomer.     
     Younger Distinguished Junior Member awards were presented to Ashley Brandel and Colton Brandel, of Lake Mills; Ava Endres, of Waunakee; Cathryn Gunst and Christopher Gunst of Pine River; Elizabeth Gunst, of Hartford; Jacob Harbaugh, of Marion; Kaydence Hodorff, of Eden; Emily Stumpf, of Appleton; Kaelyn Weigel and Kenadee Weigel of Platteville; and Grady Wendorf, of Ixonia.
    Uecker, Jauquet, McCullough and Nelson were selected to submit applications to the national Distinguished Junior Member Competition. Ashley and Colton Brandel, Ava Endres and Jacob Harbaugh were selected to apply for the national Younger Distinguished Junior Member award.
    Juniors selected to receive the 12 and Under Member Recognition award were Justin Brandel and Katie Brandel of Lake Mills; Christina Buttles, of Lancaster; Logan Harbaugh, of Marion; Vivian Lichty, of Beaver Dam; Abby Meyer, of Chilton; Ella Raatz, of Colby; Cameron Ryan and Dylan Ryan of Fond du Lac; and Payton Sarbacker, of Verona.
    Ullom was named the 2020 Wisconsin Holstein Princess. Roslind Anderson, of Ellsworth, was named the princess attendant.
    Wisconsin Holstein Youth Adult Leader awards were presented to Peggy Coffeen, of DePere, and Linda Behling, of Fox Lake, in honor of their work with Holstein youth in their respective counties.
    The juniors elected four new representatives to their activities committee: Hannah Hockerman, of Westfield, will join Nathan Daniels, of Cobb, in representing the Southwest District. Emma Dorshorst, of Marshfield, was elected to serve the Northwest District with Hannah Nelson, of Ellsworth. Newly elected in the Northeast District is Elise Bleck, of Glenbeulah. She will join McKenna Coffeen, of DePere. In the Southeast District, Nicole Broege, of Janesville, was elected to join Matthew Gunst, of Hartford. Gunst was selected by his fellow committee members to serve as committee chairman for the next year.