Cream of the Crop
By Becky Church; photo by Mikala Myran
University of Minnesota student Vincent Migliazzo started dairy judging when he was just ten years old. His early start in the industry has led him to the top during his collegiate judging career.
“I have always enjoyed looking at cows. Early on, I found motivation through my older brother,” Migliazzo says. “It really inspired me to become a successful judge when my brother won the State Dairy Judging Championship his freshman year. After that moment, I knew I wanted to be just like my big brother. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great coaches my entire career starting with my dad,” he says.
Migliazzo recently took home top honors at the 2015 World Dairy Expo Collegiate Dairy Judging Contest in Madison, Wis. Migliazzo placed first overall as an individual and went on with his team to win the entire contest in placings and reasons scores by a whopping fifty-four points. The team consisted of coaches Professor Les Hansen, Scott Ellinghuysen and Alicia Thurk, and fellow members Nathan Donnay, Eric Houdek and Matthew Hanson.
Although Migliazzo has contributed much to the University of Minnesota Dairy Judging Team’s success, he is a California native. Today, Migliazzo and his family operate the dairy that his grandpa purchased in 1967 in Atwater, Calif. Migliazzo’s father and his youngest brother, Dante, currently run the operation.
While he has always played a big role on the family dairy, Migliazzo also stayed busy with extracurriculars. “In high school, I was involved in FFA. I competed on four judging teams including Dairy Judging, Livestock Judging, Cotton Judging and Tree Pruning. I also have received my American FFA Degree,” he says.
After graduation from high school, he decided to attend Modesto Junior College. “I chose MJC over a four-year university first because I wanted to judge competitively for an extra year. Second, I was able to work while in school. The third reason was cost,” Migliazzo says. “The biggest advantage for me, though, was that it gave me judging experience by competing at the collegiate level at such a young age.”
Migliazzo recalls making the decision to attend the University of Minnesota. His main objective was to leave California in order to meet new people out of state. He chose between three options: Cornell University, University of Wisconsin- Madison and the U of M.
“When I looked at the big picture of being able to have the full college experience, the University of Minnesota best met my criteria. I wanted to be at a school that was located in a sports-centered atmosphere, a school that was close to a major airport and a school that had a great dairy program. Lastly, I wanted to be in a state where people are genuinely nice. To this day, I am 100 percent confident I made the right decision,” he says.
“I can honestly say that I have been surrounded by the greatest teammates anyone could ask for. It was a big change for me coming to the University of Minnesota without my teammates back in California. But the teammates that I have spent the last year and a half with have become my best friends,” he says.
Migliazzo acknowledges that it takes the whole team to succeed. He believes without a doubt that his biggest accomplishment thus far was his team winning the National Dairy Judging Championship in record fashion.
“I have been surrounded by a lot of great cowmen in my life, but I am not afraid to put my three teammates up against any of them,” he says. “It was an honor to spend the last year plus with Matt, Nate and Eric. They are one of the main reasons why I plan on staying in Minnesota after I graduate.”