It was the beginning of a sunny day, Saturday, September 15, when 65 4-H and FFA members from several chapters and counties in Nebraska gathered for the second annual AggieFest Livestock Judging Clinic at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA).
At 8:30 a.m., the air buzzed as youth assembled in the dusty arena of the Everett Stencil Livestock Teaching Center and NCTA’s Livestock judging coach, Dr. Douglas Smith, stood before them as he explained the event’s proceedings for the day. In the coming hours, he said, the students would learn more about judging and handling of beef cattle, sheep, goats and swine for marketing and breeding. They would also receive lessons on competing at future livestock judging competitions: how to take notes, answer questions, and give convincing oral reasons.
No doubt many of the students were excited; some may even have been nervous. But if they were nervous, they weren’t alone: Alongside Smith stood 12 college students, members of the NCTA livestock judging team, also looking forward to the event. Each student who joins NCTA’s livestock judging team is expected to participate in community service activities — and many of them admit to enjoying it.
“This event put the judging team out there,” said Katie Nelson, one of the college students and judging team members asked to assist with the clinic. “We spent our Saturday with the younger generation, teaching them about judging and what to expect when they get to college and pursue livestock judging.”
After the morning clinic, lunch was provided by the NCTA cafeteria and the Livestock Judging Team followed by a contest held in the afternoon in which college students served as the officials and helped with oral reasons. Awards were given in the Senior 4-H and FFA division and the Junior 4-H and FFA division.
When asked how college students could benefit from livestock judging and being on a livestock judging team, Tana Almand, a member of the NCTA judging team, said, “It builds self-confidence and thinking outside the box. It is fun and you get to travel almost every weekend and meet new people.”
Almand is just one of the many students who is receiving a livestock judging scholarship from NCTA. She and others on the team will have more opportunities to help high school students better their livestock judging skills when NCTA hosts a District 9 and 10 Contest on October 17 and the District 11 FFA Livestock Judging Contest on November 27.
On the weekend of the September 22 and 23, the NCTA Livestock Judging team placed 17 out of 25 teams in El Dorado, Texas, and 21 out of 30 teams in Wichita, Kan. The team will travel to the Tulsa State Fair in Oklahoma and the State Fair of Texas in Dallas over a four day span October 6-8.
Those who are interested in the NCTA Livestock Judging Team can contact Dr. Douglas Smith at (308) 367-5286. ❖
“We still run things on good old fashioned customer service. A lot of the reason why we can compete with bigger feed stores is because we treat people how they want to be treated, and they come back because of that.”
~ Danielle Nater, daughter of Dennis Nater, owner and operator of Northern Colorado Feeder’s Supply