We often encourage youth to seek results that are good for everybody involved and, therefore, to create a win-win situation. Virginia Tech freshman Cara Woloohojian and her six year old aged cow, Spider Clara Bell, conducted a master class at both ends of the halter as they walked away from the Guernsey spotlight at the 47th World Dairy Expo with a win-win-win, win-win-win title. An unparalleled six firsts certainly puts these two in a class by themselves.
Cara Woloohojian started her epic experience by showing Wee Acres Spider Clara Bell to first place in her class. Then the pair rang the bell again by winning Senior Champion. Cara and Clara Bell were delighted to top off their winning performances when their names were called for Grand Champion of the Junior Show (best Guernsey cow in the US owned by a youth). But the two were destined to stroll the red carpet another three times. Cara was proudly on the halter representing herself and sister Lauren as Wee Acres Spider Clara Bell paraded first in her class, then as Senior Champion and then as Grand Champion of the Open Guernsey Show.
“Parade of Champions is the Chance of A Lifetime”
Being able to take part in the Parade of Champions at World Dairy Expo is something that not many people can say they have done. Cara appreciates how special it was. “Winning Grand Champion of both the Open and Junior Guernsey Show at World Dairy Expo against so many great cows has been my greatest accomplishment so far. I am especially grateful for having the chance to participate in both the Open and Junior Supreme Champion parades and while I was only 18 years old. I hope that I will be able to have more great accomplishments with my future calves, embryos and Clara Bell’s bull, Cactus, and I hope to be able to start my own great cow family.”
Sisters Teamwork Foreshadows Guernsey Show Ring Success
With the polish and focus that took Cara to the top of the International Guernsey Show there was also grace and sincere affection when the announcers included her thanks to her best friend, mentor and sister Lauren Woloohojian. Indeed, the story of Wee Acres Spider Clara Bell started with the enthusiasm shown by both girls at an early age. “I first got started in dairy cattle because, while at a 4-H meeting 13 years ago, my 4-H leader asked ‘Who wants to start a dairy project?’ and, without any hesitation, my sister Lauren and I raised our hands. Once my sister and I decided we wanted Guernseys, we began our search for them. Many people told us that we would never find a Guernsey and they laughed at us, but looking back 13 years I will never regret my decision to get Guernseys.”
From Calving Pen Pick to Parade of Champions Selection
The search for the “right” Guernsey could indeed have been difficult but in fact this part of the story is as unique as the success that would eventually be recognized in the spotlights of World Dairy Expo. “Since Clara Bell is bred and owned we did not have to search through sale catalogs or talk to people to find her. We literally found Clara Bell in the calving pen with Clover, one of our original cows from Lois Whitcomb from Maine.” For Cara the history shared with Clara Bell makes this already unique story even more extraordinary. “I think Wee Acres Spider Clara Bell is exceptional because she is bred and owned and she is out of one of our original three Guernsey’s, Clover. I also believe that Clara Bell is special because we raised her and were able to bring her to a high level of competition. She represents our breed so well and has been honored as one of the best Guernseys in the country.”
“Take Pride in Walking the Colored Shavings”
With this rare double-win at both the Junior and Senior level, Cara is put in the position of mentor to others who are considering entering the dairy show ring. “My advice to other young people would be that it takes time but you never know which calf can grow to become that next great champion cow. Pick a breed, stay with it, get as much advice as you can both good and bad, weigh the options, make good decisions, and reach out to all levels of expertise in your breed. It is important to be a part of your breed association. Finding yourself a mentor is key too. If you are a youth, don’t be afraid to show your cow against adults at national shows. Although it is scary the first time out on the colored shavings, you do not want to regret not showing your own cow. I am so thrilled that I was on the halter when Clara Bell was named Grand Champion!”
FAMILY: Small Herd. Big Encouragement. Strong Support.
The Woloohojian family have a small family herd of Guernseys and Ayrshires in Rhode Island. Cara and Lauren’s parents feel strongly about cattle ownership as their mother explains. “I think owning and caring for an animal teaches the greatest lessons. It teaches many life lessons including responsibility, how to deal with success and failure, decision making and how to follow your own instincts. Sharing a common bond, it helps establish many long term friendships.” Of course, having children with cows is not a short term commitment and so the Woloohojian parents outline what it has meant. “When Cara wanted to get cows we said, “Sure, why not?” When she wanted to show at every local fair, we packed everything up and spent the summer at almost every dairy show we could find. We took her to watch shows to learn about showmanship and judging, to dairy camp and spent hours learning quiz bowl! Christmas and birthday presents always included fitting supplies, clippers, blades and topline scissors. We always encouraged her to do her best and tried to support her as best we could.”
In Good Hands with Guidance from Special Family and Friends
There were probably many times on Cara’s journey when she had to push her comfort zone, however, she is confident that she always had great input to inspire her. “The biggest influences on me I would have to say are my family, my sister, Lauren Woloohojian, Craig Hawksley, Pamella Jeffrey, Kyle Thygesen and Seth Johnson. They have all been influential to me in their own way. My family has been very influential to me because we began this project together knowing very little about cows and farming. My parents never let that get in the way or deter us. I have always looked up to my sister, Lauren. She was always the one to beat in showmanship which inspired me to get better. Craig Hawksley and Pam Jeffrey from Rhode Island have been influential because of their passion for animals. Craig’s success with Sweet – Pepper Black Francesca has always inspired me. (Read more: The Magic of Francesca) Pam was my 4-H dairy club leader and she was always supportive of me and helped teach me about showing. Kyle Thygesen, of Farmstead Genetics in Tunbridge, Vermont, provided the expertise and care which prepared Clara Bell for show. Seth Johnson supported us when this 4-H family with no dairy experience settled on the Guernsey breed. He has answered numerous questions, directed us to sales and has provided much guidance along the way.”
“We are so incredibly happy for her! She is a hard worker and never gives up!”
Cara’s mother puts this latest success into Wee Acres perspective. “We have a small family herd of Guernseys and Ayrshires. We currently farm 70 acres and recently purchased a 356 acre farm in Addison, Vermont, where we would like to continue to build our herd with the emphasis on breeding good foundation cows.” She characterizes the growing success with a mixture of pride and humor. We like to think of it as a 4-H project gone haywire! That keeps it fun!!” was Cara’s dad’s, Jim Woloohojian favorite quote.
The Bullvine Bottom Line. Now That’s Remarkable!
Those with a passion for dairy cattle and the show ring are used to the well-rounded resumes belonging to more senior members of the show ring circuit. It therefore comes as no surprise that, even though she is young, Cara excels outside the ring too. “In addition to her success at World Dairy Expo, we are so impressed by how she always helps others with their dairy projects. Whether it was giving up a run for our state fair’s princess contest so she could work with 4-Hers in NY or spending an afternoon working with new dairy project members, her passion for dairy is remarkable.” Remarkable effort! Remarkable results! That’s the essence of the Cara Woloohojian win-win situation! Congratulations Cara.