Area farmers do us proud in national arena

October 17, 2006|by Jeff Semler

The little state that roared.

That's what can be said for Maryland at the recently concluded World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

Each year, dairy farmers, and business and industry leaders meet in Madison for a week-long exposition. During this time, thousands of visitors from across the globe come together for trade shows, cattle shows, educational forums, contests, meetings and awards banquets.

The week opens with 4-H and Collegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contests.

This year, as in many years past, Marylanders were at or near the top of the winners list.

In the 4-H competition, a foursome from Frederick County walked away with top honors for the 28th time since 1919. Wisconsin is in second place with eight wins.

Team members Katie Albaugh (of Walkersville, Md.), Jarrett Remsberg (of Middletown, Md.), Curtis Rhoderick (of Mt. Airy, Md.), and Hannah Thompson (of Walkersville) gave retiring dairy specialist and coach Lee Majeskie a fitting going-away present.


In the collegiate division, Virginia Tech took top honors powered by Marylanders Matt Fry from Kent County and Jake Pieper from Harford County.

Delaware Valley College had the eighth high individual in Marylander Jenny Miller from Harford County and the eighth high team Penn State included Anne Arundel County's own Emily Yeiser who can trace her roots back to the Poffenbergers of Washington County.

In the cattle shows, Maryland again had a great showing.

Savage-Leigh Farms from Knoxville, Md., had several winners in the Brown Swiss Show. They won the Best Three Junior females and bred the Reserve Junior Champion which was exhibited by Corey Lewis also of Knoxville.

In the Holstein Show, our neighbors to the north Jim and Nina Burdette from Mercersburg, Pa., were awarded the Premier Breeder Award. Keeping with the theme Jim and Nina were both raised in Maryland and were Maryland 4-H'ers even though they have called Mercersburg home for a while.

In the Ayrshire Show, Palmyra Farm of Hagerstown, won the Premier Breeder and Exhibitor honors for the third consecutive year.

Palmyra Farm is a brother-sister partnership of Ralph Shank and Mary Shank Creek. The Shank family has been dairy farmers in Washington County for at least four generations.

In addition to good show cows, Palmyra has one of the highest Ayrshire herds in the nation for milk production. Palmyra also has bred a number of high-producing cows and has more than 20 animals on the Top 100 list for the breed across the nation.

Lastly, this year's Dairywoman of the Year was Washington County's own, Janet Shank Stiles of Shenandoah Jerseys of Boonsboro.

Quoting from the World Dairy Expo press release: "Struggles and trials often show a person's true mettle. And such is the quality of the 2006 World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year, Janet Shank Stiles. A successful Jersey breeder with a happy family, Janet and husband Tracy enjoyed success in both the barn and the boardroom.

"When Tracy died from cancer in 2000, Janet could have given up. But she was a leader, with skills honed through involvement with farm organizations, with her cattle and her family. She devoted herself to continuing the 126-acre and 125-head dairy operation. And her dedication paid off. Shenandoah Jerseys has continued to breed high-producing cows and traditionally ranks among the highest producing herds in the country.

"Her example of compassionate leadership is respected by her colleagues on the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association where she serves on a number of committees. And a recently completed farm facility expansion will assure that Janet and children Bobby and Jessica, both pursuing college degrees in Dairy Science, will continue the Shenandoah legacy, earning production honors and industry accolades along the way."

While Maryland may not be known as America's Dairyland you can bet the folks in Wisconsin, across the country and around the world have heard of Maryland, for sure.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

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