OKEECHOBEE — “Do you know what it means to be a champion of champion?” 9-year-old Hannah Butler asked the Okeechobee County commissioners at their March 12 meeting. “It means the best of the best.”
Two Okeechobee County 4-Hers proved they are among the best of the best at the Florida State Fair. Hannah won the title of Champion of Champions in the dairy division for the junior age category. Cole Verano earned the Champion of Champions title for dairy in the senior age category.
“I’m here to talk about the champion of champions program,” Hannah told the commissioners. She said each year a different topic is assigned for the competition. This year the topic was reproduction.
She said the competition included judging animals, making a poster, making a video that is uploaded on YouTube, a skillathon competition, showmanship, a record book and a test.
The 4-H motto is to make the best better, she said. She invited the commissioners to the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show “to see how hard working the dairy kids are.”
Cole Verano said that although he has shown dairy cows in 4-H for six years, this was his first year to go to the Florida State Fair.
“I did my poster and video on improving your herd with artificial insemination,” Cole explained. This included evaluating the dairy cow, selecting a bull, and the different tools used for artificial insemination.
“Then I actually did an insemination of a cow,” he continued. “Then I showed the results because I had the daughter of the cow I analyzed at the beginning and they could see what improvements were made.”
Cole encouraged other 4-Hers to compete in the Champion of Champions program. “If I started when I was Hannah’s age, I could have had a lot more fun,” he said.
Commissioner Kelly Owens asked Cole what kind of improvements he sought to make in the offspring of his dairy cow.
“I knew the cow needed better udder composite,” he said. “You want udder to be closer to the body wall.
“Also angularity — she was a little overweight. That’s a genetic thing,” he continued. “My new cow turned out better. I have to wait until she has a calf to see how her udder turns out, but it’s looking pretty good.”