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Outstanding Youth Recognized as Distinguished Junior Members

Distinguished Junior Members

Joseph Opsal, Blue Mounds, Wis.; Erin Norris, Westhampton, Mass.; Alexandra Gambonini, Petaluma, Calif.; Kayla Leiding, Fountain, Minn.; Mary Scott, Westgate, Iowa; and Nicholas Logan Potts, Purcellville, Va.

BRATTLEBORO, Vt., July 10, 2018 – Holstein Association USA recently recognized six finalists as 2018 National Distinguished Junior Members (DJM) at the National Junior Holstein Convention on July 3 in Acme, Michigan. This is the highest honor a Junior Holstein member may receive and is based on outstanding work throughout their dairy project career. The contest, held since 1922, has honored 376 outstanding dairy youth for their contributions to the Association and the dairy industry as a whole. The finalists for this year's competition are Alexandra Gambonini, Petaluma, Calif.; Kayla Leiding, Fountain, Minn.; Erin Norris, Westhampton, Mass.; Joseph Opsal, Blue Mounds, Wis.; Nicholas Logan Potts, Purcellville, Va.; and Mary Scott, Westgate, Iowa. Applicants completed two judging phases. Phase one, the Junior's entry book, is worth 60-percent of the final score. The book highlights the Junior's Holstein work, activities and projects, breeding program and personal views. Phase two takes place at the National Junior Holstein Convention, where the twelve semifinalists are interviewed by a second committee. The interview accounts for 40-percent of the final score. The six individuals with the highest combined scores are recognized at the National Junior Awards Banquet as Distinguished Junior Member Finalists and receive an annual renewed membership to the Holstein Association. “The Distinguished Junior Member program recognizes the future of the dairy industry. This honor is a coveted title that celebrates youth from across the country working with Registered Holsteins. These members are leaders in their community, role models for other youth in addition to being spokespeople for the dairy industry,” Kelli Dunklee, Holstein Association USA & Holstein Foundation Program Specialist states. The Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) Contest selected eight Junior members as finalists and were also recognized at the National Convention. The YDJM winners were judged on similar criteria to the Distinguished Junior Member Contest, but do not complete the interview phase. The Young Distinguished Junior Members for 2018 are: Eliza Endres, Waunakee, Wis.; Nathan Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; Matthew Gunst, Hartford, Wis.; Julia Heijkoop, Webster, Fla.; Hannah Hockerman, Westfield, Wis.; Samantha Pitterle, Watertown, Wis.; Audrie Risser, Lebanon, Pa.; and Blake Wright, Verona, Mo. For more information about Holstein Association USA’s youth programs, visit

Holstein Association USA, Inc.,, provides products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability–ranging from registry processing to identification programs to consulting services. The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 30,000 members throughout the United States.

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