4H ambassador

Maddie Martin stands for smiles with her fellow Dairyland 4-H Club members after winning the Whatcom County Dairy Ambassador title Saturday. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Alternates to NVHS student: Ferndale’s Ashley Archer, Lynden’s Alyssa Boersma

 LYNDEN ­— Out of five contestants for the title, it was Maddie Martin of Nooksack Valley High School who wore the Whatcom County Dairy Ambassador sash and tiara at the end of a selection and coronation event at Homestead Saturday.

Chosen equal alternates with Martin were Ashley Archer of Ferndale High School and Alyssa Boersma, homeschooled in Lynden.

They will together be the face and voice for the local dairy industry in 2019-20.

On her speech, Martin spoke of the cross-generational aspect of showing dairy cattle at the Northwest Washington Fair, as she has experienced it.

As a participant in 4-H and FFA dairy judging and more, she is the fourth generation to do, so, she said, and she recounted how everyone in the family has a supportive role.

“It is the way dairy farming has bound my family together that has impacted me the most,” she ended.

Also competing were Juli Dickinson of Lynden Christian High School and Taylor Reams of Lynden High School

The event squeezed in 152 people at Homestead after being held in Bellingham for many years. It is now at mid-day instead of evening.

The winners of two named scholarships were announced: Mina Polinder — Travis Lenssen, new, and Karibeth Engelsma and Kody Tiemersma as renewals; Judy Scholten — Kyla Bonsen, Holly Lenssen, Tabitha Revak, Carl Roosma, Pamela Roosma and Elijah VanderHaak as new and Caleb Bareman and Lacey Biemold as renewals.

This is the speech given by Dairy Ambassador contest winner Madeline “Maddie” Martin:

“Four generations of showmen have walked into the show ring at the Northwest Washington Fair, ready to demonstrate all the work that they have put in over the year. When I step out into the ring, I know that I am part of something more than myself. I am just a piece of a legacy that has been built before me and will continue as I grow. Showing dairy heifers is so much more to me than the trophies and ribbons. For me, it is a family affair.

“Every day during the summer, we meet at uncle Tom’s farm to practice showing as a family. My brother and all my cousins lead our animals together — even the cousins who are too little to be in 4H get their hands on a halter, even if it is just holding on to the end of a lead. My great-grandpa Ted drives around the half circle of lawn where we practice and offers tips and tricks from his pickup, honking occasionally to simulate the traffic heard from Front Street. 

“This is the farm where he was born, and where my grandma Eileen was raised. She acts as the judge and keeps a tally of points for those who are doing the best. Don’t talk back to grandma, or you’ll get docked. My mom and her sisters sing ‘The Final Count Down,’ and quiz us on animal birth dates, sires and dams when we are getting close to the fair. Great-uncle Larry taught us all his clipping tricks from how to blend a belly to getting right down to the dew claws.

“On show day, my brother and I bring in the heifers of our younger cousins to start helping them blow out their toplines, and make sure that everything is perfect.  Grandpa Ted is there, to see that we have given our dairy heifers beet pulp and they are properly filled. Grandma Eileen arrives with her signature egg salad sandwiches, and Uncle Tom is there too, joking the nervousness out of us and giving us a pre-ring pep talk.

“When it is time to be in the ring on my own, I can look to the stands and see them all there, rooting me on. Everyone has a role, and everyone pulls as a team. Showing at the fair has taught me how to work, has taught me how to be committed, but most of all, has taught me how blessed I am to be a part of my family.

“Each generation adds a layer to the legacy.  There are crazy stories of heifers that just wouldn’t lead to tales of hardships and triumphs. Future generations will look back gratefully at the groundwork that was laid, and past generations proudly await what is to come. It is a fortunate family that finds itself growing in the dairy community.

“The story of my family and me is just one small aspect of the dairy community. I know there is so much more to it — from raising calves to milking, to veterinary care and the distribution of milk products.  But it is the way dairy farming has bound my family together that has impacted me the most.”