In the mid 1960’s several Angus breeders – Herm Bakhaus, Richard Crissman and Herb Diuble, met with Dean Hurlbut from the American Angus Association to talk about the possibility of forming a junior Angus association in Michigan. The Angus breeders at that time had the foresight to want to provide an opportunity for young Angus breeders to learn leadership skills, promote the breed, train future leaders, develop interest in Angus cattle and become part of the “Youth Activities Department” of the American Angus Association.
The Michigan Junior Angus Association was organized July 24, 1966 at the Michigan Angus Field Day held at Michigan State University. Duane Feikema of Evart was elected as the first president. Other officers and charter directors were vice-president Jim Crissman; second vice-president Dennis Good; secretary-treasurer Pat O’Mara; and directors Bill Sheridan, Nancy Diuble, John Caviness, Dennis O’Mara, Sue Crissman and Mary Nagel. Regional association directors were Dennis Fellows, Dana Chester, Katie Crissman and Kay Railor. The first adult advisors were R. K. Crissman, Vic Cronk and Curtis M. Brown. The vision of the Michigan Junior Angus Association is to provide the opportunity for youth interested in Angus cattle to develop leadership skills and form lifelong relationships through activities associated with the Angus breed.
Bill Brittain, owner of Mahogany Farms, donated a heifer to the junior association. The heifer was sold in the 1967 Michigan Angus Futurity and the money from the sale of the heifer went into the junior Angus association treasury to provide funds for a beginning in Angus promotion. Kitty Kurtis Farms purchased the heifer for $1050. The organization grew tremendously in both numbers and activities. The first Michigan Junior Angus Association field day was held at MSU in 1967 and it was open to juniors from all breeds of cattle. The first Michigan Junior Angus newsletter was written in 1969 and the first Premier Jr. Exhibitor Award was presented in 1969. The first Michigan Jr. Angus Association Preview Show was held in June, 1971 at the MSU Livestock Pavilion and the judge was Dr. Dave Hawkins. Other early activities the association helped to sponsor included a Michigan Junior Beef Education Day held in 1970 at MSU, a beef management clinic in 1974, a breeding certificates drawing for junior exhibitors, and the Michigan Junior All Breeds Heifer Show which has been held since 1978. The association also hosted the first Great Lakes Regional Jr. Angus Heifer Show in 1981.
Over the years the Michigan Junior Angus Association has continued to sponsor many activities and recognize members for their achievements. They have held socials at statewide shows, organized workshops focusing on youth and communication and record-keeping skills, as well as multi-breed workshops, hosted breakfasts at the National Jr. Angus Show, held workdays to prepare for national contests, participated in every contest at the National Jr. Angus Show and helped promote beef at various activities throughout the state. The association also developed a mentoring program which has resulted in many close and long-time friendships being developed between the members.
When the National Junior Angus Board was organized in 1980, a Michigan junior, Sharon Diuble, was elected to the first national board of directors. Since that time, nine other Michigan juniors have served two year terms on the board and carried on major leadership roles. They were Lisa Bohlen, Clifford Simmons, Christine Simmons, Lisa Hawkins, Jennifer Hawkins, Ryan Sweeney, Renee Thelen, Andrew Foster, and Danielle Foster.
Throughout the years the Michigan juniors have compiled an impressive record of accomplishments at the state and national level. Watch for more history coming soon.