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4-Hers judge to top 20 finish

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Competing against the top 4-H livestock judges in the nation is no easy feat. Combine that with the opportunity to judge some top quality livestock, and it makes for a difficult contest.
    Through it all, the Goshen County 4-H livestock judging team stayed calm and relaxed, and in the end pulled off a 13th place finish at the 88th annual National 4-H Livestock Judging contest in Louisville, Kent. The team competed against 120 contestants representing 32 states, at the contest, which was held during the North American Livestock Exposition (NAILE).
    The team was comprised of Andrea Gurney, Jessica Middleswarth, PD Miller, and Danielle Schainost. They were coached by 4-H volunteers Clint McWaters and Brodie Mackey.
    They earned the opportunity to represent Wyoming in the national contest after winning the Wyoming State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, which was held during the Wyoming State Fair in August.
National contest
    During the national event, contestants judged 11 classes of sheep, goats, swine and beef cattle. They also gave four sets of oral reasons and answered a series of questions from two classes.
    As a team, they placed ninth in swine and ninth in oral reasons. Individually, Miller was fourth in swine and 11th overall. The top 20 overall contestants in the event were named All-Americans, an honor Miller is quite proud to add to his accomplishments. Gurney placed ninth in sheep and goats and 11th in reasons.
    “This contest wasn’t the best day we’ve had, but we were still pleased with how we placed,” Gurney said. “We did our best. This contest was really intense and probably one of the most well-organized contests I’ve ever been to.”
    “When we went to this contest, we were competing against some of the best 4-H livestock judges in the nation,” Miller added. “We were all on a similar skill level, so it was tough. There were a lot more contestants than what we were used to.”
Judging practice
    To prepare for the event, Gurney said they practiced once or twice during the week, and on weekends, giving reasons and looking at livestock. Sometimes, they traveled to Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne or to Casper College to study their livestock.
    They have practiced weekly since August.
    “Our goal at this contest was to use the resources our coaches had given us to evaluate the livestock classes we were judging,” Gurney said. “It was a challenge for me to keep my cool, and stay calm and collected. We were competing against the best. I am a perfectionist, and I had to keep reminding myself that I made it this far, and just needed to relax.”
Valuable skills
    Miller said although the contest was tough, it was an experience that will serve him well in the future.
    “I think it helped move me up to the next level,” he explained. “It will help prepare me for livestock judging at a collegiate level.”
    Miller said he hopes to compete in livestock judging in FFA, in college and hopefully be a livestock judge, someday.
    “I think learning to judge livestock has been a valuable experience for me,” he continued. “It will help me learn what to keep and cull in my own cowherd, and help me push my own operation forward.”
    Gurney agreed.
    “It helps prepare you for your future if you decide to pursue an ag-related field. I may want to ranch, and possibly raise my own show hogs, someday,” she explained. “The resources our coaches have given me have taught me how to evaluate livestock and learn what to look for.”
    Gurney also hopes to share her experience with others.
    “I won’t be judging in FFA, but I want to help my advisor start a livestock judging team with younger kids. I love livestock judging. It has been my passion since I was little,” she said. “I hope to share my knowledge with them.”
    While on the trip, the teens enjoyed judging a wide variety of livestock in Illinois, Purdue University and the University of Kentucky. They visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and Churchill Downs. They also enjoyed meeting and talking with college coaches about judging at a collegiate level.
    Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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