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Highlighting the Northeast Junior Handler of the Year and Regional Competitions

I knew that I was not the only one pushing for the future of our sport to have recognition at every show, and I am glad to report that some clubs and events go the extra mile – with the help of everyone involved – to show juniors that they are indeed an important factor to making our sport thrive and advance.

The Northeast Junior Handler of the Year competition is one that the Thanksgiving Classic Cluster of Springfield, Mass., is very proud of. Not only do these four clubs, Holyoke Kennel Club, Windham County Kennel Club, South Windsor Kennel Club and Springfield Kennel Club work together to put on a good show, they’re also taking an extra step forward to make sure young handlers get the recognition and the proper tools to succeed. This cluster offers a juniors clinic, called “The Handlers of Tomorrow,” that allows the kids to get some hands-on experience through the AKC Registered Handlers Program.

Morgan Campbell, the 2012 Northeast Junior Handler of the Year. Photos courtesy of Peggy Wampold.

At this particular event, the winner of the Northeast Junior Handler of the Year award, Morgan Campbell, showed her Australian Shepherd and caught the eye of finals judge Gwen DeMilta, then went on to receive a $1,000 scholarship.

John Mark Woodworth, 2nd Place, 2012 Northeast Junior Handler of the Year.

The second place winner was John Mark Woodworth handling his Great Dane, who received $500 towards a scholarship to pursue his college education.

Madeline McDougall, 3rd Place, 2012 Northeast Junior Handler of the Year.

Third place went Madeline McDougall showing her Siberian Husky. Madeline received a $300 scholarship toward her college education. 

Joshua Frenia, 4th Place, 2012 Northeast Junior Handler of the Year.

Fourth place went to Joshua Frenia and his Smooth Dachshund, who received a $200 scholarship.

The concept of regional competitions for juniors is based on the original state of California competition. There are now regional competitions conducted throughout the country, with the host club determining the eligibility requirements. These events offer scholarships as awards to provide support to juniors once they have aged out in their pursuit of a college education.

At the Northeast event, the juniors had to have won a first place in two or more Open classes in Junior Showmanship competition at AKC-licensed or member dog shows held between November 1, 2011 and November 1, 2012, and had to be at least 9 years of age and under 18 years of age at the time of each qualifying win.

As you may have guessed, there is also a Best Northwest Junior competition that will be held this weekend, on December 8, in conjunction with the Greater Clark County Kennel Club Inc. in Ridgefield, Wash. The prizes at this event are as follows:

Best Northwest Junior: $1,000 scholarship

Reserve Best Northwest Junior: $500 scholarship

Best Junior In Each Group: $100 scholarship

To have qualified for this competition, juniors must have won one or more Best Junior awards (when offered) at an AKC member or licensed club all-breed or Specialty show held in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon or Washington between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012.

More and more people are taking action to support the future of our sport, and you can too! Keep an eye out for regional events like these, and be sure to read your premium lists and spread the word for those who might have missed it!

A special thanks to Peggy Wampold for sharing her passion by providing information for this DFR, and to the juniors of the AKC Juniors Facebook Group for bringing to my attention the Best Northwest Junior competition!

P.S. Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Cindy Cooke December 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    AKC supports programs to develop judges and this program to develop professional handlers, but where is the program to develop breeders? Oh, yeah, those guys–the people who make everything possible. I proposed a program to develop new breeders both to my parent club and to the delegate body (by way of their in-house magazine, Perspectives). I called the idea “Mentored Breeding.” The idea was to reach out to people who were already breeding their pet Scotties by inviting them to a combination social/educational program hosted by show breeders. The goals were: 1. To make them feel welcome and comfortable in our community instead of sneering at them as “backyard breeders.” 2. To help them understand the function of the breed standard and the reasons why it was important to breed to the standard. 3. To furnish them with breeding quality bitches and allow them access to the best stud dogs. 4. To encourage show breeders to work with these people so that, whether they ever became exhibitors or not, the dogs they produced would be of sufficient quality that they would be useful to show breeders. 5. To encourage them to show their dogs and to teach them the grooming and handling skills they would need to be successful. 6. To encourage them to join and support our regional clubs.

    To my surprise, my parent club turned thumbs down, mostly because a few vocal club members were horrified at the idea of letting home breeders into our tiny (and diminishing) circle. Nothing resulted from offering the idea to the delegate body. So here it is, almost a decade later and there is still no program to recruit and develop new breeders. This is particularly critical for the Terrier group which is rapidly declining in numbers. Very few Juniors are showing Terriers and that’s probably smart for them. When they join the ranks of professionals, there probably won’t be enough of us Terrier breeders around to support them!

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    Shawny December 6, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I think that you have the pix from the JR.s in the wrong order!

  • Jess Thibault December 6, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    I thhink it’s great you put this up!!

    The placements are not correct tho, the Dacschund went 2nd, Dane 3rd, Sibe 4th :)

  • Peggy Wampold December 7, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    Thank you. I am so happy you printed this and the pictures. we need to give recognition to the next generation of fanciers and encourage them to continue in the sport that we love.

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