Cream rises to the top, and so do talented young dairy farmers.
Two local students — Isaac Haagen, who lives near Howard, and Derek Wasson, of Centre Hall — are among the eight finalists recently announced in the Holstein Association USA Youth Distinguished Junior Member national contest.
Haagen, a Bellefonte Area High School sophomore, and Wasson, a Penns Valley Area High School junior, will be recognized in June at this year's National Junior Holstein Convention in Sacramento, Calif.
The YDJM award goes to youth ages 9 to 16 who excell in their Junior Holstein projects. Contestants are judged on their "entry book," which details their project and work in dairy and Holstein activities, school and communities. Other finalists this year hail from California, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and Virginia.
According to an association spokeswoman: "These exceptional, dedicated youth members display tremendous leadership skills and involvement working with Registered Holsteins."
From covering the Grange Fair and local agriculture, I know how hard area children work throughout the year raising livestock. They rise early, work late and, all the time, balance schoolwork and other concerns with their responsibility to their animals.
Given that, and Centre County's sterling dairy history, I'm not surprised we claim a quarter of some of the nation's finest junior milk producers.