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Up-and-coming dairy youth ready to make impact on the industry

Callie Curley for Progressive Dairyman Published on 09 June 2017
Doug Boop receiving an award

Ask Doug Boop for his thoughts on the future of the dairy industry, and you’ll receive a thoughtful smile followed by a single word: challenging.

A Penn State junior studying animal science, Boop is no stranger to the dairy farming lifestyle. Growing up on his family’s farm, Heart & Soul Holsteins, in Millmont, Pennsylvania, he has been responsible for everything from bottle-feeding calves to milking cows.

In recent years, he also began managing the farm’s heifer program and show string, consulting with his parents – Jen and Doug – on ways to improve the herd through adjusting feed plans, keeping up-to-date on vaccinations and, in general, keeping a closer eye on the cattle to identify their strengths and needs.

As he gains new responsibilities, his interest in the dairy continues to grow.

“I’m looking forward to being back on the farm full-time,” Boop says. “My biggest goals really are to continue developing our show herd and working with good genetics and good cattle.”

At 8 years old, Boop became involved in the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Association, competing in the dairy bowl and dairy jeopardy contests at the state and national levels. Today, he is a National Distinguished Junior Member semi-finalist, Merle Howard award recipient, overall Judi Collinsworth winner and president of the Junior Holstein Executive Committee in Pennsylvania.

Dale Olver, instructor of dairy and animal science at Penn State, has known Boop since he became involved in dairy bowl as a youth. Today, he is also his teacher, academic adviser and dairy science club adviser at Penn State.

“Doug is accomplished but always humble and goes out of his way to be helpful, whether in the show barns or at a dairy bowl competition,” Olver says. “He has a love of learning and a love of dairy cattle. Listening to him talk about his plans and goals, I have no doubt he will achieve them.”

Describing himself as the behind-the-scenes type, Boop says he’d rather work in the barns or lend a hand at ringside than stand at halter.

“Showing can be fun, but I am happier when I am working with my cows and making sure they’re in the best possible form they can be,” he says. “There is always a new challenge or interesting problem to be solved and, for me, that is the best part.”

Boop credits his passion for dairy cattle to the opportunities he has had as a youth.

“Everything I have learned and experienced growing up has driven me to remain in the dairy industry,” Boop says. “If I could say one thing to a kid who was just starting out [in dairy], I’d tell them to take every opportunity to be involved. When it comes to the end, it’s never been enough time.”

Another up-and-coming youth ready to make her mark on the industry is Maggie Kirby of East Montpelier, Vermont. Maggie wasn’t born into the dairy industry but, since walking into her first 4-H meeting at 9 years old, she hasn’t let a moment go to waste.

Maggie Kirby

A senior at U-32 High School, Kirby will attend Cornell University in the fall to pursue a major in animal science with hopes of one day working in some facet of the dairy industry.

“My [4-H] leaders have been two of the most inspirational people in my life and influenced me to pursue a career in dairy,” Kirby says.

Those 4-H leaders, Richard and Bonnie Hall of Fairmont Farm Inc. in East Montpelier, have leased Holstein cattle to Kirby since she joined their club. In the years since, her love for showing Holstein cattle has only grown.

“When we started the club, Maggie jumped in with both feet, full-force,” Bonnie Hall says. “Now, we really couldn’t imagine the club without her. She’s grown into a great leader and role model to younger members and loves to help them out with their project animals.”

But according to Hall, beyond the knowledge is something deeper, and far more important.

“Maggie is enthusiastic. She’s determined. And she came from a family that had no dairy cattle; they didn’t even have a house pet. And look at her now – she’s developed into one of the better showmen in the state. I believe she found her niche, and as long as I’ve known her, she’s never let an opportunity go to waste.”

In addition to her 4-H show experience, Kirby has competed in 4-H dairy bowl at the state and national levels, attended the National 4-H Dairy Conference twice and even tried her hand at dairy judging, qualifying for the Vermont state 4-H judging team for three consecutive years before eventually having the opportunity to judge at World Dairy Expo in 2016.

Another pastime of Kirby’s has been participating in the New York State Junior Dairy Leader Program hosted by Cornell University. In this program, she has attended a wide array of farm tours, workshops and team-building activities with other youth leaders from New England and the Northeast.

“There are countless opportunities in 4-H and the dairy industry, but the best one is probably to just be able to be a part of such an important and vast industry, of which I would have never been aware of if I did not join 4-H when I was 9,” Kirby says. “My advice to the next generation of youth dairy leaders is to take advantage of all the opportunities programs like 4-H and FFA provide. Work hard and make your own future.”  end mark

PHOTO 1: Though Doug Boop prefers to be behind the scenes at shows, he will occasionally step into the limelight on the halter. Here he is receiving the 2016 Overall Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Award at the Premier National Junior Show from Jodi Hoynoski, executive director of Holstein identification and member services at Holstein USA. Photo provided by Doug Boop.

PHOTO 2: Richard and Bonnie Hall of Fairmont Farm Inc. in East Montpelier, Vermont, helped to spark Maggie Kirby’s career in the dairy industry. She will attend Cornell University in the fall to pursue a major in animal science. Photo provided by Maggie Kirby.

Callie Curley is a communications student at Penn State University.

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