By Jennie Zeitler
At age 5, Cloverbud 4-H member Megan Hollerman of Burtrum showed her first dairy calf. Rather than letting the less-than-perfect memories of that show sour her on the idea, the experience fed her enthusiasm for dairy projects.
“I remember being drug around by my baby calf at the Todd County Fair,” she said. “My dad always taught me never to let go of the calf. The picture my mom took shows the look on my face.”
Ten years later, Hollerman, a sophomore at Swanville High School, is still enthusiastically doing dairy projects. She used to show a big Brown Swiss named Kiss, who was “like a pet.” These days, her project is her red and white Holstein cow, Lily.
Starting in third grade, 4-H members can show more than one project, and Hollerman has done several. She tried horses for a couple of years, but wasn’t very into it. She currently does veterinary science, photography and dairy.
“Dairy has always been my favorite. Being raised on a farm, I got to hang out with my favorite animals,” she said. “I’ve raised Lily from a calf and she’s like a baby to me. I very easily got attached to her.”
Lily slipped on ice in the Hollermans’ barn last winter and injured her hip. They had to consider putting her down, something that was extremely upsetting.
“Then my dad said that we would let her fight her way out of it, and she did. She healed by herself with meds for swelling,” Hollerman said. “She’s been fine.”
The night of Lily’s fall, Hollerman wrote a speech about Lily, describing how Lily snuggled up right next to her.
“When I yell at her, ‘No, Lily — you can’t do that,’ she puts her head on my chest,” said Hollerman.
Hollerman has gone to the State Fair four years, three with dairy and one with beef. She has gone to the Northeast Livestock Show in Brainerd three years, with beef.
Hollerman’s most thrilling 4-H moment was at the Minnesota State Fair this year when she and Lily were awarded grand champion Holstein grade production.
“It was definitely one of those glory moments,” said Hollerman.
Lily has had two bull calves so the family is eagerly hoping for a heifer calf later this month.
Hollerman showed beef for a few years, usually taking a dairy steer.
“This year I took an actual Charolais beef steer,” she said. “But holding the show stick and switching hands makes it very complicated. I’d rather show dairy any day of the week.”
Another 4-H activity that Hollerman participates in is Share the Fun. It’s a talent show sponsored by some counties that includes skits, dance, singing and playing musical instruments. It takes place every year in February.
“This year I was asked to host it with Rebekka Paskewitz from Staples-Motley,” Hollerman said. “Next year I will be doing something in the show.”
Hollerman was excited enough to participate that she gave up a trip to speech subsection competition in Sauk Centre.
“There was no choice,” she said. “I was going to do the 4-H activity.”
During the 2012-2013 school year she was the Todd County Leaders Council secretary, and this year she is the reporter. She was a camp counselor this past summer at Northern Pines camp near Park Rapids.
One event that Hollerman hopes to do yet is a Citizenship Washington (D.C.) Focus trip.
“We get to stay in dorm rooms at the national 4-H building, visit the White House and do so many different things,” she said. “I hope to go next year.”
But 4-H is not the only activity Hollerman is actively involved in. She is a Swanville volleyball team member, is on the speech team and in the play this year. She also dances with Just for Kix in Long Prairie.
“That definitely keeps my plate full,” she said. “I would rather be busy than sitting around on the couch.”
Hollerman gives a lot of credit to her parents, who have helped her the most. She has also received a lot of support from Larissa Brune, Todd County’s 4-H program coordinator.
“I love 4-H,” Hollerman said. “I only have four more years left.”