Some local FFA members will represent a Whiteland school in the World Dairy Expo later this month, the first team in several years to do so.
A trio of students at Whiteland Community High School — Josie Kelsay, Jenna Kelsay and Grace Ison — will head to Madison, Wis. Sept. 27 to compete in the dairy cattle judging section of the World Dairy Expo, which will have teams from each state present.
Typically, international teams compete at the expo as well, but the international presence may not be what it is in other years due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, said Hannah Goeb, the school’s agricultural teacher.
The three girls qualified for the expo after performing well in a state competition in June in LaPorte. Three Whiteland high school teams competed then, and the Kelsay and Ison trio advanced to the expo.
Though Whiteland has sent FFA teams to the World Dairy Expo, this is the first time it’s happened in at least seven years, which is how long Goeb has been at the school, she said.
“They’ll take four cows out onto the ring, and the kids will have to judge them based on their body type, the utter and mammary system, and how well they’re put together,” Goeb said.
The students will judge the groups similarly to how they judge at the county fair. Then, adults will judge them, and the students will compare results to see how accurate their placements are, she said.
Students will have 15 minutes to judge the cows and present their reasoning to the adult judges, Goeb said.
Sophomore Josie Kelsay has been surrounded by agriculture her entire life. Her family owns Kelsay Farms, a six-generation farm in Johnson County. The chance to compete at the expo is the culmination of her work in FFA that started when she was in elementary school, she said.
“I’ve been doing dairy judging since the third grade and I never got to nationals. It means a lot to me and my family; they’ve also done (FFA),” Kelsay said.
The ability for Whiteland students to represent the high school and state of Indiana on a national stage carries significance for not only the school, but the entire Whiteland community, Goeb said.
“It’s really exciting. This is the first national judging competition I’ve ever had a team qualify for,” she said. “Being from Whiteland, I know it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for our school and community to show we have a presence in agriculture.”