Two Nebraskans are stepping into leadership roles with the American Gelbvieh Junior Association.

Madalynn Welsh, daughter of Brian and Gina Welsh of Franklin, Nebraska, was elected to the AGJA Board of Directors. Alexx Starr, daughter of Scott and Raberta Starr of Stapleton, Nebraska, was elected to the 2019-2020 executive committee as treasurer.

They were elected in July at the 2019 AGJA Music City Showdown in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Welsh, 16, is a junior at Franklin Public Schools. She will serve a two-year term on the board of directors. She has been involved in AGJA and the Gelbvieh Association In Nebraska (GAIN) since 2013, when she attended her first junior national show.

“This is my first year on the AGJA Board of Directors,” Welsh said. “However, I have been Junior GAIN secretary and treasurer for two years.”

She said the positions require similar duties, but the two organizations are markedly different.

“Within AGJA, the junior board is responsible for meeting a great deal of the needs of our association,” Welsh said. “We work together to assist at state and national shows, organize the annual junior national show and make decisions that impact the youth of our organization for years to come.”

Her family raises registered Gelbvieh cattle. They’ve done so since 2014, when they bought their first set of Gelbvieh heifers.

“We were attracted to the Gelbvieh breed due to their diversity,” Welsh said. “The breed’s ability to be the key part of anyone’s operation is truly impressive.”

Gelbvieh cattle are the foundation of her family’s herd. She states that, for producers with an established herd, Gelbvieh can be the key breed in crossbreeding in order to maximize heterosis. They reach puberty at an early age, they are hardy and feed efficient, they are docile and easy to work with and their mothering ability is second to none, she said.

“Personally, I love the maternal capabilities Gelbvieh cattle have to offer,” Welsh said. “Even most first calf heifers are able to have newborns up and sucking within 20 minutes of birth with no problems at all.”

She said that she has found that this quality is not necessarily standard among other breeds. She also found that the Gelbvieh maternal capabilities don’t stop after the first 24 hours, either.

“Milking ability is a major advantage Gelbvieh females offer, and this trait is extremely important to a producer’s bottom line,” Welsh said. “Gelbvieh and Gelbvieh-influenced cattle are truly able to meet the needs of the standard American cow-calf operation with ease.”

The Welsh Family currently raise cattle on the same ground her great-great-great grandfather raised cattle.

“I am a sixth-generation ag producer,” Welsh said. “My family has farmed and ranched in Franklin County since 1879.”

Although their operations are completely separate, she credits her great-grandfather, Doug Kahrs, for teaching her about raising cattle.

“Grandpa Doug has a commercial operation in Franklin County and he has been raising cattle for 64 years,” Welsh said. “Agriculture has always been important to my family and our livelihood.”

As much as she loves her cattle, she hasn’t decided if being a full-time rancher is her chosen profession.

“I am very interested in bovine reproductive sciences,” Welsh said. “As of right now, I wish to pursue a career in research related to bovine reproduction.”

Combining her love for cattle, science, discovery and the agriculture industry will help her find her path in life, she said, and she is tremendously excited to start that adventure.

“I also plan to continue to raise Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle; and of course, keep advocating for the industry I love,” Welsh said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be involved in this industry – and specifically, to be a part of the American Gelbvieh Association.”

Starr, 19, is a freshman at Mid-Plains Community College studying nursing. She has been a part of AGJA and GAIN since 2011. Now the treasurer, she served as board director for 2018-2019.

“My family has been operating Cedar Top Ranch (in Stapleton) since 1938,” Starr said. “Our ranch is primarily Gelbvieh/Balancer cattle, which is how I got started with this breed.”

She said she believes that even had her family not been involved in Gelbvieh cattle, they would have attracted her attention.

“In my opinion, Gelbvieh bring a lot of good traits to the beef industry such as growth, docility and being very maternal,” Starr said. “I strongly believe that Gelbvieh influences should be implemented into every commercial herd.”

While her future plans are aimed in the health care industry, she plans to stay active in the beef industry and serving as an advocate for Gelbvieh influenced cattle.

Another Nebraskan, Jacob Barwick, son of Rodney and Joanne Barwick of Orleans, Nebraska, will complete the second year of his term on the board.

AGJA is the junior division of the American Gelbvieh Association. AGJA provides members, of up to 21 years of age, the opportunity to participate in association activities and offers scholarship opportunities

Its stated mission is to “instill a sense of responsibility, dedication, pride and professionalism;” and by doing so “develop and enhance the leadership and education of its members.”

Jon Burleson can be reached at jon.burleson@lee.net.

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