Two Dawson County High School students are the first from Georgia to be selected to attend the Jersey Youth Academy this July in Ohio.
The Academy focuses on Jersey dairy cows and on running a dairy farm business.
For 18-year-old twin brothers, Matthew and James Holton, owning a dairy farm is in their future plans.
The Holtons were recently selected from a group of 36 people from 17 states for the 2013 academy class.
We will meet all of the experts of the Jersey dairy industry and get contacts that will help us after we graduate from vet school or college, said James.
It is an opportunity that could provide useful information and future resources not currently available in Dawson County.
The Holtons were also chosen by Dawson County High School as representatives in the environmental sciences category for the Governors Honors Program. If selected, they may attend a summer residential program that designs its activities to help them acquire the skills to become independent, life-long learners in their field.
The brothers said if chosen as Governors Honors recipients, they will attend this program held the same week as the Jersey Youth Academy.
A decision made only after the Holtons spoke with Cherie Bayer, program coordinator for the academy.
She said if we were chosen this year for Governors Honors, she would honor our selection for the Jersey Youth Academy for a future one, said Matthew. This is the last year we can attend Governors Honors, explained James. But we can attend the Youth Academy through our senior year in college.
To further their education of the breed, the Holtons have purchased five Jersey cows and are expecting their first calf born for the duos farm, H2 Jersey Farm.
Right now, our main goal is to breed some really good show cows, said Matthew. Everybody has told us that we have some of the best cows that you can get, and we are trying to breed our cows to have big udders but still be good calves. One of the characteristics they like to see in a show is a big udder, he added.
The Holtons have displayed their cows in several shows and have had notable results, including a Junior Grand Championship.
Weve shown Holstein cows with Reggie (Stowers) and the schools FFA Association, said Matthew. But overall, we like the characteristics of Jerseys much more than other breeds. Jersey cows are smaller and their feed costs are less expensive.
And their environmental impact is lesser then other dairy breeds,
added James. The milk fat content is much higher in Jersey cows, so you can make more butter and other milk products.
The twins have separate reasons for preferring the Jersey breed. However, they both have their eyes targeted on career fields related to the dairy business.
I want to work in the dairy industry as an engineer and help design more efficient equipment for larger companies, said James. I also want to work on the environmental side of dairy and make things better for the future generations environment.
Matthews future career plans are to be a veterinarian in Dawson County and join his father Ed Holton, DVM at his clinic, All Animals Hospital. My dad is the only vet at his clinic, explained Matthew. So he cant always leave the office to make house calls for large breed animals. I want to help him with those cases.
And both young men have the ultimate dream of owning their own Jersey cow dairy farm.
That is what we would like to do in the future, said James A lot of people think we are crazy because we dont really have a lot of help here locally. It is so uncommon here.
Matthew agreed, Even if it is a small farm, Id like to have a dairy where we could milk our cows and sell their milk to distributors.
Clark MacAllister, county coordinator for the Dawson County Extension Office, said he is impressed with the Holtons goals.
This is fantastic to see these young men interested in a venture most people wouldnt have the courage to do. Its going to be tough for them because there arent really any models to see in this area. But its also kind of indicative with how we are going with agriculture across the state. Its good to hear about kids wanting to be innovative in the business.