It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday, but one building on the MU campus is full of activity and energy as 357 4-H and FFA members from all over the state gathered to participate in the 2015 Missouri Youth Grading and Judging Contest and Clinic, March 7.
This long-time tradition updated its schedule this year with an added workshop portion. This section was designed for beginners in the eighth grade or younger to break into smaller groups and learn the basics of judging. They had the opportunity to have a more in-depth experience to learn how to evaluate livestock.
A group from the Audrain County 4-H club had members attend in both the contest and the clinic.
“Learning about market hogs was my favorite because I show pigs in the summer,” said Lance Fort, 4-H member.
The individuals who participated in the contest were able to get out of the stands where they normally judged in years past to get a closer look at the livestock. After the judging portion, contestants prepared and spoke about their reasoning for the placing of the class. They also studied their notes for a questions class.
Samantha Rinehart, senior at North Harrison High School, attended with her FFA team and competed in the contest. Rinehart comes from a strong livestock background, and she was excited to be on the contest team this year.
“We have been to other contests in the weeks past, and this one by far has been the most beneficial for our team,” Rinehart said.
Rinehart and her team will take what they gained from this contest to prepare for the future.
“This contest provided good quality livestock, and hopefully this will help us prepare for districts, and then qualify return to Trowbridge for the state FFA contest,” Rinehart said.
The day rounded out with the announcement of the individual and team awards. Drew Cox, of the Princeton FFA chapter, received high individual of the day. Cox’s team was awarded first place.
Chip Kemp, coordinator of the event, has been involved with the contest since 1989 and looks forward to it every year. He was very interested to see how the new changes were going to affect the flow of the day.
“Every time you make a change to something, you have to expect some rough spots,” Kemp said.
The clinic was incorporated in the schedule to make the day more applicable to the youth who just started their judging careers. Kemp, who is also an MU animal sciences instructor, felt that this goal was accomplished. He said that allowing contestant downs into the arena enhanced the contest for them as well.
“Obviously, we will have to make some adjustments and modifications, but I feel this change was necessary for the youth,” Kemp said.