“3-1-2-4 is my placing of this class.” On Saturday, Sept. 6, these words were echoed by many Missouri 4-H members, ages 8 to 18 years old, at the MU Trowbridge Livestock Arena during the 2014 State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest.
Bob McNary, interim state 4-H agricultural specialist, said this year’s contest attracted 93 junior competitors, ages 8 to 13, and 66 senior competitors, ages 14-18. The contest consisted of six livestock classes in which competitors evaluated cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, according to current industry standards. Competitors also gave oral reasons to judges, which provided members with an opportunity to defend their class placings to the judges.
“This event teaches 4-H members to make decisions, compare and contrast items, work as a team, and work to a higher standard,” McNary said.
Miriam Martin, an MU animal sciences student, attributes her decision-making skills to her involvement in the state 4-H livestock contest.
“My ability to make split-second decisions and then back those decisions up with sound, logical reasoning and confidence is a skill I have been able to attain,” Martin said. “Learning how to deal with subjectivity and understanding other people’s perspective is an invaluable trait.”
Aside from sharpening their interpersonal skills, these 4-H members have the opportunity to sharpen their industry knowledge through their participation in this state 4-H sponsored livestock event.
McNary related the 4-H pledge to the event when he said, “Our head helps us to think clearly and logically when making decisions. Our heart tells us how we should place the animals. Our decisions allow us to choose high output livestock that will ultimately produce healthy food for the food system, and our experiences help us to lend our hands to others when we return to our 4-H clubs and share the knowledge we have gained through our participation in this event.”
Martin believes events like this have helped her to develop connections within MU and the livestock industry.
“I felt better prepared heading to college due to my interpersonal communication skills and agriculture knowledge base, thanks to my experiences with the state 4-H livestock judging contest,” Martin said.
Leah Stotts, Missouri 4-H communications assistant, also credits 4-H state programs for exposing her to the MU campus and to college students at a younger age.
“The relationships formed through these events helps members step out of their comfort zones and become more outgoing, which is valuable for members heading to college,” Stotts said.
For more information on the state 4-H livestock contest and other Missouri 4-H youth programs, visit the Missouri 4-H website. Results from the competition can be viewed at the Missouri 4-H Livestock Judging Contest page.