Farm Credit Services of Mid-America Helps Send Tennessee 4-H Dairy Team to Nationals

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Farm Credit offices in Tennessee funded a trip for students in Marshall County to attend the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jenny Strasser has a passion for dairy. And for the past twelve years, she’s gladly shared that passion with the next generation as a volunteer coach with the Marshall County (Tenn.)    4-H Dairy Judging Team. In 2011, all the pieces finally came together when the team won the Tennessee state championship and earned a trip to the Nationals at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. in October.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime,” said Strasser. “We had a great group of kids, who worked very hard, and it really paid off.”

But after the initial excitement came the next hurdle—how to pay for the trip? Fortunately for the group, Matt Neal, regional vice president for Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, got wind of their need and came up with a $1,250 Farm Credit regional stewardship donation to the cause. This gift, along with others, wound up essentially covering the cost of the whole trip.

Once the team—consisting of Rachel Whaley, Dusty Strasser (Jenny’s daughter), Ben Jordan, and Dalton Todd—and their sponsors got to Madison, they showed they belonged, even as they competed with the top kids in the nation from bigger dairy states with stronger state 4-H dairy judging programs. At the Expo, teams and individuals compete in four categories. Of the 32 teams at the Expo, the Tennessee contingent finished seventeenth overall, and Dusty finished nineteenth of 109 individuals in overall placings category, including top 25 finishes in Brown Swiss placings and reasons, and top 25 in those categories for Holsteins also.

For Jenny, who had also gone to the Nationals as a youth from her home state of North Carolina, the year and the trip to Madison were both sweet.

“We couldn’t have had a better team, all very sharp, well-spoken kids,” she said. “They all wanted to do well, and we never had any complaining about practicing. Instead they were always asking, ‘Do we need to practice again,’ or ‘What else do we need to do to prepare.’ They had a blast, and it’s something they’ll never forget.”

She was quick to acknowledge, however, that the team couldn’t have achieved its success without the assistance of others.

“Farm Credit’s gift was very helpful and very much appreciated,” she said. “It helped us pay for the food and rooms, so the kids and parents didn’t have to worry about that. They were really nice to us.”

Strasser said that they had also received other donations and that neighboring dairy farmers had been very helpful and very patient about letting the team practice judging their cows.

For his part, Neal was glad to have had a hand in helping to make the trip to Madison a reality.
“At Farm Credit, we really appreciate 4-H and all that it brings to rural communities,” he said. “I was in 4-H in elementary school and know what a great job it did and still does of helping to create and build a passion for agriculture in our youth. In middle Tennessee, we have a very strong 4-H program, which largely the result of volunteer leaders who are willing to invest their time to help kids be involved in agriculture through 4-H. Through our stewardship program, we feel it’s crucial for us to support these young people if we’re going to have agriculture 40 years from now.”

About Farm Credit Services of Mid-America

Farm Credit Services of Mid-America is a $17.1 billion financial services cooperative serving over 92,500 farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. The association provides loans for all farm and rural living purposes including including real estate, operating loans,equipment loans, and housing loans. FCS also provides an array of financial services, including crop insurance and leases. For more information about Farm Credit, call 1-800-444-FARM or visit them on the web at http://www.e-farmcredit.com.

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