Indian Creek senior Danielle Heffner added to her already impressive resume with a 4-H Grand Champion win with her Nigerian Dwarf goat Dakota at the 2019 Maryland State Fair. Danielle and Dakota took top honors at the Anne Arundel County Fair in 2016, 2017, and 2018 but top state honors had eluded the duo until this year. “I have been going to the county fair since 2009. When I got my dairy goat (Dakota) in 2015, I started getting a lot more involved in 4H and the shows. I’ve been to many spring shows such as the eastern shore spring show and the Southern Maryland Livestock Expo. Dakota and I work very well together and win champion in showmanship and her breed class often. I also have been to bigger shows like the Maryland state fair, which I never did very well in until this year when Dakota was champion Nigerian dwarf” said Heffner.
Dairy goats are judged on four main categories, mammary system, general appearance, body capacity, and dairy character. Danielle is no stranger to the competition scene as she has been raising livestock since she was nine and competing alongside Dakota since 2015. While many students rely on a partner or teammate, they usually don’t have one that requires heading out to a barn each morning. The time commitment can seem overwhelming, especially when animals are in birthing season and require observation.
Danielle is leveraging her time in 4H in conjunction with her coursework at ICS to pursue a career as a large animal veterinarian. She has found that the hands-on experience of raising livestock has given her a clear advantage as well as the necessary preparation to pursue this career field. “The most rewarding part about working with animals is the experience you get out of it and the bond you create with an animal. You get out what you put into raising livestock and if you don’t put the work and time into it, you’re not going to learn anything or have a nice animal. It’s very fulfilling to see an animal that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into win at the fair.”
Danielle begins her next competition at the annual Anne Arundel County Fair. The fair runs from September 10-15 and in addition to competing with Dakota, she will be auctioning off a market lamb, Gordon Lambsey, and a market goat, Marz, on September 14. For more information on 4H as well as where you can visit some of the animals Danielle has raised, visit www.kinderfarmpark.org