By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — Midd-West High School senior Jacob Shaffer joined the National Junior Holstein Association at age 2, participated in his first statewide public-speaking contest at age 7 and this year was elected to serve as the 2014-15 president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the association.
The youngest of Beavertown dairy farmers Jeff and Cindy Shaffer’s three children, the 18-year-old is one of 8,000 active members up to age 21 enrolled in the national association who are increasing their knowledge of the dairy industry and building leadership skills through a variety of activities and contests.
“Pennsylvania has the largest chapter in the nation (with 1,650 youths), but that’s no reason to stop,” said Shaffer, who would like to bolster membership by adding contests that highlight different skills. “I hope to get a lot more kids involved.”
Shaffer always enjoyed public speaking, though his mother says it didn’t come naturally.
“He was 7 when he took part in his first public-speaking contest. He had to stand on a milk crate to see over the podium,” recalled Cindy Shaffer, who added his topic was on mastitis. “It wasn’t very good.”
But Shaffer persisted and did his homework.
“I did terrible the first time, but that loss drove me to compete,” he said.
Subsequent topics he covered included organic milk and the value of chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink.
This year, he won first place speaking about feeding the world in 2050, beating out several Penn State students who also competed.
Shaffer also won the respect of his peers in the state and was chosen by a majority of fellow junior representatives from every county to serve as president of the association. In his new role, he will serve as a delegate to the national Holstein convention in Dubuque, Iowa, in June and participate in the national public-speaking contest.
“Jacob’s 6 feet tall now, so he doesn’t need a milk crate anymore,” his mother said.
He plans to study animal science at Cornell University in the fall.