Lunenburg teen wins top honors in national, international cow showing competition
By Guy Page
A Northeast Kingdom teenager is quietly becoming a top-ranked contender in competitive showmanship and knowledge of dairy cows.
Liviya Russo, a Lunenburg resident and high school junior who aspires to be a nurse, was either a top finisher or outright winner of four major national and international shows.
Not unlike dog shows, entrants in dairy cow shows are judged on appearance and presentation, including clipping and confirmation.
In the spring, Russo and her Ayshire heifer Aurora took home a first-place ribbon at an Eastern States show, and then another at the fall Eastern States Expo. Motivated by her regional success, Russo decided to compete in the international World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. She finished fifth in the highly competitive 14-16 year old division Sunday, October 2.
Russo and her Vermont teammates also finished third in the 4-H Quiz Bowl at the Eastern States Expo on September 16.
The two-day event included a written test and a double-elimination contest of buzzer-round questions, covering topics such as dairy breeds, calf raising, lactation, milk production and marketing, genetics, reproduction, animal diseases, nutrition, crops, farm management and important dairy industry dates and people. Additional activities were mixer games, a pizza meet and greet and an awards banquet at the conclusion of the event.
According to Coach Judith Vaughan of Newbury, “Our Vermont girls really stood out! The officials cited them as the most colorful team, sparked by their sharp-looking outfits, lively personalities and impressive knowledge of all things dairy. As a result of their contagious team spirit, they were selected to lead the 4-H pledge at the awards dinner.”
In between study sessions, the team visited Churchill Downs and dined at Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, both in Louisville. They also visited the show barns to watch fellow Vermonters exhibiting their dairy animals and had time to shop at the North American Country Store next to the show arena.
The team was selected at the State 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl contest held at the University of Vermont (UVM) in March. Subsequently, practices were held at least twice monthly with team members putting in hours of extra study at home.