CALS big win at national dairy judging contest is a fitting tribute to Dave Dickson

Eleven weeks after CALS dairy scientist Dave Dickson passed away, the dairy judging program that he coached for 46 years dominated the 2010 National Collegiate Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo.

The team, which includes dairy science seniors Kelly Sime, Brian Coyne, Chelsea Holschbach, and Ben Sarbacker, became the 2010 national champions by earning the highest combined score. Coyne had the highest individual score in the history of the contest. Holschbach placed second, and also won the “oral reasons” portion of the contest, in which contestants have two minutes to explain to contest officials why they ranked the cattle as they did.

The team is coached by Ted Halbach, director of the UW-Madison Farm and Indsutry Short Course Program, assisted by Brian Kelroy. This win marks the UW-Madison’s tenth national team championship; and Halbach’s third national championship in his 12 years as coach.

“I talked to the students about striving for perfection when we started practicing in August and this team came as close to their potential as any I’ve had the privilege to work with,” said Halbach.  “They were willing to commit to the preparation it takes to compete against the best and win.  Their success today is a fitting tribute to Dr. Dave whose work with judging teams so enriched the student experience for UW judging team members and established the standard of excellence that marks our program.”

It was also fitting that, as winner of the oral reasons part of the competition, Holschbach is the first recipient of a new award named in Dickson’s honor. Dickson placed heavy emphasis on preparing students to give reasons, both as a way to enhance their understanding of dairy cattle and to hone their public speaking skills.  He led 18 UW-Madison teams to win the reasons title.

Adeptness at giving reasons appears to be a Holschbach family trait. Chelsea Holschbach’s father, Mike Holschbach, a 1981 UW-Madison dairy science grad, also won oral reasons at the national contest.