Training at School and the Farm

Sara Haag, Level 3 Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation Therapy (SMaRT) at Berks Career & Technology Center (BCTC) and Schuylkill Valley Senior has had two passions for as long as she can remember – sports and cows. This led Sara to place first as an individual and her Pennsylvania team to win first place in the country at the 100th National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest in Madison Wisconsin on October 2, 2022. Sara is the fifth person from Pennsylvania to win the individual first-place in 100 years.  

A concussion ended Sara’s time as an athlete but sparked an interest in sports medicine and caring for people after an injury or accident. She applied to BCTC’s SMaRT program and found a career path she loved. Sara may have been destined for her other passion of raising, caring for, showing, and judging cows as she is a 7th generation farmer at her family’s Mic-Ali Farm. “My parents used to show cows and got me interested in showing cows,” Sara explains. “At my first contest I came in first place and that ignited my interested in going to the national level.”   

A big part of showing cows is knowing what characteristics the judges are looking for in a healthy cow. “It all goes back to the farm; you need to know the traits of the cows. If a dairy cow’s udder is higher and wider, it will produce better and longer than an average cow.”  Sara adds, “knowing these traits will help you breed cows that will be healthier and show better.” The more Sara learned, the more her interest evolved in judging dairy cows. 

Sara and her all-female Pennsylvania 4-H Team will be heading to Scotland and Ireland for the International Dairy Judge contest in June 2023. Sara proudly states, “there are not too many women dairy cattle judges, so I am hoping to set a new standard.”  Sara and her teammates have weekly practices to prepare for the competition. During their international visit, the Pennsylvania team will tour other dairy farms between competitions.  

Her day starts much earlier than many high school students by feeding calves every morning on the family farm. Sara adds, “five nights a week I am milking 76 cows at my family’s farm and two days I am milking cows on another farm.”  She is also a champion cow fitter, trimming hair and preparing cows to look their best during a show. Sara is a BCTC Student Ambassador and highly active in BCTC’s HOSA Future Health Professionals chapter. She recently organized a blood drive for Miller Keystone Blood Center. 

Sara recently committed to the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences Nursing Program. Her goal is to work as a nurse and eventually take over the family farm with her brother, Cody, a student in BCTC’s Heavy Equipment Technology program. “My dream job is to judge at the World Dairy Expo, the biggest national show in the United States.”  Sara continued, “I will always be involved in dairy farming. I want to continue judging at shows and help young 4-H members reach their dreams.”