Katie Grace Weant, a 17-year old high school senior from Taneytown, Md. represented Maryland at the 60th annual National 4-H Dairy Conference, held in conjunction with the 2014 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.
Weant, a member of the Progressive Clovers 4-H Club and the Francis Scott Key High School FFA in Carroll County, was the only delegate chosen from Maryland to attend this year’s event.
The National 4-H Dairy Conference is open to high school students in 10th through 12th grades from across the United States and Canada.
The 150 youth delegates also attended a variety of information sessions designed to expand their knowledge of the dairy industry. The sessions were offered at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, which also housed participants in its’ Lowell Center conference facility during the five-day meeting.
Weant’s favorite session was "Roaming through the Rumen" with Dr. Dave Combs. "We were able to stick our hand right into a cow’s side and feel feed working its way through her rumen," Weant said. "It was sort of gross but also amazing at the same time."
Weant also enjoyed "Farm Finances" offered by Charlie Crave, an AgStar representative and co-owner/operator of Crave Bros., a 1,900 cow dairy and cheese company in Waterloo, Wis. "Mr. Crave taught us some simple ways to complete farm books which I found helpful since the information matched well with the college-level accounting class I’m taking this semester," she said.
Attendees kept such a busy schedule that they didn’t visit the World Dairy Expo until the fourth day of the conference. Like most people, Weant was thoroughly impressed with the show. "I saw the Champion Jersey cow chosen. And I visited with some farmers from home who were also at Expo."
Conference organizers made sure the schedule allowed time for fun. Delegates enjoyed a Wisconsin-style tailgate party, two dances, some dinners and other recreational activities.
Weant, the daughter of Todd and Joanne Weant of Weant-Haven Farm in Taneytown, Md. plans to pursue a degree in dairy science or dairy management. She already has her own small herd of registered Jersey cattle – the first Jerseys to be milked at her family’s farm in six generations.
"Attending the National Dairy Conference made me even more certain that I want to continue my family’s dairy tradition," Weant said. "The conference was a wonderful experience. It was great to be with so many kids my age who are interested in the dairy industry. I am very honored to have been chosen and I hope that other Maryland 4-H’ers will be offered this great opportunity in years to come."