Boardman to re-energize UW judging
Laramie – After one month at the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie, Livestock Judging Coach Caleb Boardman has already signed up nearly 20 students for his first class in the fall. Boardman’s reputation for top-notch judging ability makes him a welcome part of the UW Animal Science Department.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Boardman says. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Warrie Means, interim animal science department head, comments, “I think we are really lucky to have someone of Caleb’s caliber at UW. He loves livestock judging and that kind of enthusiasm is contagious.”
From a young age
“Caleb comes from a bloodline of livestock judging,” Means continues.
Russ Boardman, Caleb’s father, was the livestock judging coach at Northwest College in Powell for 18 years. Boardman was raised on the family’s farm and cattle ranch outside Frannie.
“My brother Jared and I started a flock of sheep to raise club lambs to sell to other 4-H and FFA members,” Boardman explains. “We had a ranch background, and I’ve been around judging all my life.”
Boardman mentions that their family vacations were spent traveling around the region to county fairs where his father judged shows.
“Jared and I would hang out ringside while Dad judged,” he says. “He would joke that if he screwed up, people could ask us what we thought. Judging is in my blood.”
When he was old enough, Boardman got involved in both 4-H and FFA, and his father took on the role of coach for his 4-H and FFA judging teams. All three of Boardman’s brothers were also involved in livestock judging and saw great success at the collegiate level as well.
After his 4-H and FFA careers were completed, Boardman received scholarships to Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kans. where he judged as a college student for two years.
“From there, I was recruited to judge at Texas A&M, so I went to Texas and got my bachelor’s degree while I judged,” he says. “I was blessed again to have the opportunity to stay in Texas and was asked to help coach.”
Boardman earned his undergraduate degree in ag business and will graduate in August with a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition.
“It was unique to go from a town of 100 to a university that had 50,000 students and then get asked to be a part of the coaching program there,” Boardman comments. “I was lucky enough to win a national championship while I was coaching.”
Until the opportunity to coach at UW came up, Boardman hadn’t planned to stay in the academic world.
“I was going to go into business, but this opportunity came up, and here I am,” he says. “I had never thought about staying and coaching. This program is one of the only programs I’d have kept coaching for because of the ties to my home and what I think it could become.”
One of Boardman’s favorite aspects of coaching is the connection to students and the deep relationships that traveling with a judging team builds.
“A judging team is a close-knit family,” he explains. “It is fun to travel with the team and see them succeed at all the national contests.”
His high hopes for the UW team bring a challenge – but it’s a challenge that Boardman sees as promising.
“When we look at Wyoming historically – whether we are talking about judging or showing – we are one of the more competitive states in the whole nation,” Boardman notes. “There are also four junior colleges in the state with judging teams that are very competitive.”
With a strong community college base and judging history, he sees strong potential for the program.
“I’ve always thought that we have a good opportunity to make Wyoming a really competitive team,” Boardman comments. “My hope is that students can stay in Wyoming and judge rather than moving out of state to the more traditionally competitive teams like Oklahoma State or Texas Tech.”
For his first year of coaching at UW, Boardman will start teaching a class of nearly 20 students in September. Beginning in December, they will hit the road and start judging.
“The senior college year runs from December to the national contest in Louisville, Ky. the following November,” Boardman explains. “We will work hard from December until March this first spring.”
In December, Boardman will take the team to Phoenix, Ariz. for the Arizona National over Christmas break. From there, they will judge at the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, Colo., the Sioux Falls Stock Show in S.D. and an all-cow contest in Nebraska. The spring season wraps up in March in Houston.
“After our summer break, we will come back and help put on the State 4-H judging contest at the Wyoming State Fair,” Boardman says. “We’ll go to an all-hog show in Austin, Minn. in September and follow that with two practice contests. We’ll wrap up with the two big contests in the fall – Kansas City, Mo. and Louisville, Ky.”
At that point, Boardman will be working through his second class, and his second team will begin judging in December 2016.
“I am really excited to be a part of this and to build a program in my home state,” Boardman says. “I am excited to take this program and make it into one that is more competitive nationwide.”
Boardman notes that he and his wife Kylie are both excited about moving to Laramie. While he is teaching, Kylie will be pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Wyoming.
“Caleb is extremely well-trained for the job, he is very enthusiastic, and he is connected,” Means continues. “He had instantaneous credibility in this state. Everyone knows who he is, what he is about and what a quality livestock judge he is. We’re really excited to have him as part of our team.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.