I consider collegiate livestock judging  programs one of the most impressive programs in the livestock industry. For one, it’s a pretty large fraternity, as more than 30 schools and thousands of kids participate at the college level. I have no idea how many young people compete at the 4-H  and FFA levels each year, but the number has to be significant.
If you’re involved in livestock production, visual appraisal of livestock is an important skill set. However, anyone who’s participated in these programs will tell you that being able to evaluate livestock is actually a secondary benefit . It’s about the competition, the team camaraderie and, most importantly, learning to think logically, organize your thoughts, make a decision, and verbally defend your placings. I’ve been told that company recruiters love hiring from within the judging ranks because of the skills this program helps to develop in participants.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if outside observers who watch these young adults, who are all dressed up, walking around and talking to themselves as they prepare their reasons, see them as almost comical. But for anyone who has been part of the program , it brings back great memories.
The top five place winners in this year’s contest held few surprises, as there typically are 10 schools that perennially finish at the top. This year was no exception, as the final results were: Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, respectively. For those schools and the young men and women who invested so much time and effort, it was undoubtedly all about winning.
I’m sure all these young participants were told by their coaches that they are all winners, regardless of the contest results. I know from experience, however, that it will take 10 years for that realization to become obvious to these same folks, and that is why it’s such a great program.
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