By Beth LaShell and Brad Fassett
We are very pleased to announce that our La Plata County 4-H Livestock Judging Team qualified to represent Colorado at the North American International Livestock Exposition in November. This contest is for the best of the best, where all 50 states send their first-place teams to compete for the national title.
The senior team won the state contest in June to qualify the North American Exposition. Taylor Jenkins, Rylie Zufelt, Guy Wright, Kori Jenkins and Isaac Greer judged 12 classes via video, recorded three sets of oral reasons and answered 30 questions about the classes. To win, they finished the day second in beef, third in sheep/goats, first in swine and first in reasons/questions.
Livestock judging contestants evaluate classes with four animals in each. They compare and rank the animals for quality relative to the livestock industry. Then they give three to six sets of oral reasons to an adult official to defend their ranking of the animals.
This program teaches team members decision-making skills, public speaking, time management, teamwork and helps to build confidence. Since 1993, 32 local youths have continued to judge at the collegiate level and received scholarships for their higher education. This fall, Taylor Jenkins will attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling and Zufelt will be at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, on judging scholarships.
In January, four of the members represented Colorado at the National Western Livestock Show, where they were third out of 37 states represented. That experience will be helpful as they prepare for this fall’s competition in Louisville, Kentucky. They plan to attend contests in Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas to prepare for this next challenge.
In addition to the senior team, there are 15 juniors (ages 8 to 13) who also participate in the program. They attend all the practices (Zoom or in-person) and compete in their own division. This spring, our junior teams were second and third at Arizona National in Phoenix and in the top three at each of the virtual contests that were held in Colorado.
Other accolades for this year’s La Plata County Livestock Judging Team include having two members on the Colorado All-State Team. Brock Fassett and Taylor Jenkins placed in the top 10% of at least three contests in their respective divisions and will receive a belt buckle from the Colorado Livestock Judging Coaches Association.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, our in-person fundraising efforts are limited, so we are requesting support from our community and have three options for you to help us defray the cost of traveling and competing at the national 4-H judging contest.
Tax deductible donations mailed to La Plata County 4-H, 2500 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301.Individual donations can be made at www.tinyurl.com/LPCDonation. The Donate It Back option at La Plata County Fair Auction on Aug. 8.If you purchase an item or animal at the auction, you can choose to donate the money back to the Livestock Judging Team. It will be resold at the end of the auction to benefit the team and you’ll receive 100% of the purchase price as a tax-deductible donation.
Beth LaShell and Brad Fassett are the co-coaches of the La Plata County 4-H Livestock Judging Team.