Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wisconsin's Kyle Natzke wins the 2009 Merle Howard Award

Kyle Natzke’s passion for showing and dairy cattle, demonstrated through his junior project work has earned him the 2009 Merle Howard Award. The son of Tim and Barb Natzke of Fond du Lac, Wis., Kyle is the sixth person to receive this award.

The Merle Howard Award is presented to youth who demonstrates exemplary skills in fitting, showmanship, and overall passion for the dairy industry.

This 18-year-old is active in 4-H and the Junior Holstein Association. Through these groups, Natzke has competed in local, state, and national dairy quiz bowl and dairy jeopardy competitions. Just this past year, his dairy bowl team won the state contest and represented his Wisconsin at the National Holstein Convention in Sacramento, California.

Not afraid of work, this outstanding junior has worked numerous shows and sales in both Canada and the United States and has garnered the respect of those working with him for not only his solid work ethic, but his expertise in handling and caring for quality cattle. This year, Natzke captured fifth place honors at the state dairy cattle judging contest as his Dodge County judging team won the event and earned the right to represent Wisconsin at this year’s National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo earlier this week.

Showing is his passion. In 2007, Natzke was named top showman within his breed at the Wisconsin State Fair. The very next year, he capped that off by being named Supreme Champion Dairy Showman at State Fair. That same year, he was named Champion Senior Fitter at the National Holstein Convention Fitting Competition. And earlier this week, Natzke earned the top honors in the Senior Showmanship Division at World Dairy Expo’s Showmanship Contest which featured 72 contestants from across the country.

Previous award winners of the Merle Howard Award include: 2004, Robert Teixeira, Turlock, Calif., 2005, Matthew Mitchell, Lafollette, Tenn., 2006, Greta Koebel, Three Oaks, Mich., 2007 Brandon Ferry, Pickett, Wis., 2008 Kelly Lee, Johnson Creek, Wis. Merle Howard was a respected dairy industry pioneer. Winner of the 1954 Klussendorf Award, Howard was a herd manager, Holstein classifier and later a sales and export business man. Serving on the first National Dairy Shrine Board, he became one of only seven people to receive the 4-E Award for outstanding service.

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