by Enrico Villamaino

A trio of young farmers are among the recipients of the National Dairy Herd Information Association’s (NDHIA) scholarships.

Headquartered in Fitchburg, WI, the NDHIA works with the USDA, the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) and the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association (PDCA) to provide the dairy industry with needed, efficient and affordable programs.

The $1,000 awards are bestowed upon applicants in recognition of their scholastic achievements, leadership in school, community activities and their career-related goals.

DHIA scholarship winners have diverse goals

Glenn Barnes served as secretary of his high school’s FFA chapter. Photo courtesy of Glenn Barnes

Millerton, PA native Glenn Barnes is a senior at Cowanesque Valley Junior-Senior High School in nearby Westfield. The 18-year-old grew up working on Maple Knoll Farm, his parents’ farmstead. Asked to describe his duties at Maple Knoll, Barnes laughed, “I do whatever Dad tells me!” He mostly helps out with the milking and the crop chores.

Barnes has been involved in both 4-H and FFA, serving as chapter secretary of the latter. He plans on attending Oklahoma State University this autumn. “I really like building things and trying to improve them. That’s why I want to major in agricultural engineering,” he said.

Barnes plans on returning to the family farm to work after completing his collegiate curriculum.

Emily Starceski was selected to be the Junior Superintendent of the Chautauqua County Fair. Photo courtesy of Emily Starceski

Emily Starceski of Sherman, NY, is in her third year at Cornell University. The 20-year-old is pursuing a degree in animal science, with a concentration in dairy management.

“From the time I was eight until I was 18, I showed cows in 4-H. And I was also a member of Sherman Central High School’s chapter of FFA,” she said. Starceski has also taken on the role of junior superintendent of the Chautauqua County Fair in Dunkirk.

After her graduation in May 2023, she hopes to continue on in the dairy industry. “There’s a lot of possibilities! Maybe I’ll work as a herd manager. I might also go into consulting,” she said. “I’d like to try being a nutrition consultant for herd owners.”

Nineteen-year-old Mindi Freed of Timberville, VA, is in her final year at Virginia Tech. While still a student at Stonewall Jackson High School in Mount Jackson, VA, she began taking college courses at Lord Fairfax Community College. She earned her high school diploma and associate’s degree simultaneously.

Mindi Freed was the 2020 Virginia Dairy Princess. Photo courtesy of Mindi Freed

Freed has worked at Ridge View Dairy in Quicksburg, milking cows since she was in the eighth grade. She gained further experience in pork processing during her two years at Baker’s Pork Processing in Mount Jackson. “I also got my AI certification from Select Sires. I’m looking forward to getting more into that field,” she said.

The dairy science major is also pursuing a minor in political science, as agricultural policy is very important to her. After her graduation, she would like to work to ensure that non-dairy products are not labeled as “milk” products. “It’s misleading, because people buy milk products because we’re all told how nutritious milk is,” she stated. “But when people buy milk that isn’t milk, it can lead to malnourishment.”

Freed does have one other box to check on her to-do list when she graduates: “I’d like to be the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture,” she said.

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