Franklin teen earns Guernsey cow with essay

ContributedState Guernsey Breeders Association youth adviser Christel Axtell stands with Tracer Howland and his Guernsey Lola at his family farm in Franklin in August. 

A Franklin teen has done well with a Guernsey calf he won earlier this year at a few recent local fairs.

Tracer Howland, 13, who attends 8th grade at Walton Central School, won the calf, Lola, last winter through an essay competition by the New York State Guernsey Breeders Association. He won a blue ribbon with her at the Delaware County Fair and took second place with her in the 4-H show at the State Fair.

Tracer said his parents have a beef farm, but generations of his family had dairy cows. Thanks to a suggestion by school FFA advisor Tina Miner-James, he entered the competition and won the calf for an essay about why he wanted a dairy cow. Tracer has also exhibited beef cattle at fairs for the past few years.

Tracer said he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity if not for the contest, and was excited for the opportunity. He said he has plans is to use Lola to start a herd.

“It’s fun showing cows,” he said. “You can talk to them and they don’t talk back.”

Miner-James said knowing of her student’s experience with beef cows, she was surprised he wanted to apply. But she was glad he wanted to try something new.

“You have to put some work into this,” she said. But she was not surprised with the results.

“When he sets his mind to doing something, he gets it done,” she said. “He’s a die-hard supporter of the FFA. I couldn’t be more proud.”

State Guernsey Breeders Association youth advisor Christel Axtell said the essay competition has been going on for 15 years. The purpose is to give kids who don’t currently own Guernsey cows a chance to experience a different breed. She said this might have been the second time a Delaware County youth received the award.

“He did a really good job of presenting his goals for getting involved with the breed,” Axtell said. Living in Deposit, she got to spend more time working with Tracer than she normally does with state winners. She had never met him before but said she was "drawn in by his enthusiasm."

"He is very open-minded and willing to listen to instructions,” she said. “We made an excellent choice.”

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