Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Kentucky team just won yet another national championship, but not the one you're thinking of

Kentucky is well-known for college basketball championships, but a very different kind of team is well on its way to a dynasty. The Future Farmers of America's dairy judging team from Spencer County High School in Taylorsville has been on a roll in recent years: they've won the national FFA contest for the past four years, and seven total of the contests since 2005. And in June they placed second in the International Dairy Judging competition in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Spencer County High School FFA Dairy Judging Team (photo provided)
What's really interesting about the team is that none of the four boys, all honor students, live on a farm or own any dairy cattle, retired journalist Keith Runyon of Louisville reports for The Huffington Post. But veteran agriculture teacher Bland Baird, who has mentored Spencer County teams and agriculture students since 1977, mentored the boys every step of the way. Though he retired two years ago, he stayed on part-time to coach the team. Let's meet them:
  • David Luke Williamson will be a finance major at Western Kentucky University, and he plans to attend law school afterward.
  • Michael Bentley will attend the Speed Engineering School at the University of Louisville, where he will major in electrical or mechanical engineering.
  • Max Dippell will attend the University of Kentucky, majoring in agricultural education. His goal is to follow in Baird’s footsteps as an agriculture teacher.
  • John Brumley will be a pre-veterinary medicine major at Murray State University. in far Western Kentucky.
Mary Berry Smith, the daughter of writer and environmentalist Wendell Berry and executive director of the Berry Center in New Castle, Ky., told Runyon that the team is practicing skills that are too often ignored in schools: "How wonderful to know about a good teacher and bright students studying what, I believe to be, the essential knowledge of how human beings feed themselves. Especially in a state with a strong dairy farming history. That in itself is the most hopeful of news. That they have been and are being internationally recognized for their achievement is a credit to them for their hard work, and it gives me another reason to be a proud citizen for the Commonwealth of Kentucky."

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