As a Sonoma County Farm Bureau member and dairy farmer, it has always been a goal of mine to make a sincere effort to advocate and support the dairy industry and our next generation of farmers and ranchers.
The COVID-19 Pandemic was devastating to many industries and community groups in our county. These large losses we experienced can often overshadow smaller efforts and projects we often take for granted.
Our next generation of farmers and ranchers who participate in 4-H and FFA clubs were met with disappointing news last year when it came to showing their animals and working on breeding projects. It was hard to watch these kids who dedicate so much time to their animals be told their shows were canceled.
At the beginning of this year, the Sonoma County Fair had planned on only doing market animal sales and the Petaluma Fair was unsure of how to proceed. I knew that something had to be done for our dairy breeding exhibitors to make sure they could still participate in a show this year. In 2020, Redwood Empire Holstein was awarded an Alvin Hansen grant through the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Foundation to host a show and clinic. This year we were finally able to use that money awarded to host a summer show at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. With the help of Marilyn Herzog and the Sonoma County Fair Board, we were given the Sonoma County Fairgrounds space free of charge. We could not have planned and executed this show without the support of the Redwood Empire Holstein Association and their efforts to assist us in creating a show for Junior Breeding Dairy kids.
On Saturday, June 19th I had the opportunity to watch almost 30 exhibitors from the age of 2 to 18 walk into Jamison Ring showing off their dairy projects with the biggest smiles on their faces. I watched children, whose parents I showed with, show their little March calves and proudly walk out with their Peewee Showmanship metal. They couldn’t wait to get back in the ring and show again. It was so impressive to see such a large Peewee Showmanship class, so large, in fact, that two classes were created to make sure everyone could participate.
I watched 4-H kids make new friends and help each other get their animals fitted. It felt really great to see a community of dairymen and women cheer on our next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Our efforts to create a summer show would not have been possible without the Farm Bureau Foundation, the Sonoma County Fair, and all our donors that sponsored this event.
It’s been too long since the last time I have felt so much excitement and pride from these hard-working FFA and 4-H kids at a show. The bright smiles and the joy that everyone seemed to have that day reminded me why I fight so hard for our next generation and our dairy industry. They make it all worthwhile.