By DOUG GRAVES
WILMINGTON, Ohio — Nearly 1,100 high school students from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan packed Roberts Arena buildings in Wilmington in late February for the 55th annual Livestock Judging Contest. There was competition in agronomy, as well.
The contest, which requires students to hone their skills at judging swine, sheep, horses, beef cattle and dairy cattle, is hosted annually by the Wilmington College Aggies.
“It’s safe to say that FFA and 4-H is alive and well in these states,” said Harold Thirey, professor of animal science at Wilmington College. “We had 800 students compete in the livestock judging, while 100 students competed in each of the other classes.”
Fifty schools were represented that day, including one from Michigan. Students were divided into groups of 20 and each group surrounded by up to eight animals in each pen. Students entered the arena with their backs to the pens.
When instructed, the students would turn around and judge each animal based on certain criteria. Two key rules were enforced: no cell phones and no talking. Points are deducted for each of these offenses.
Nearly 100 students tested their skills in the agronomy section of the competition. In this judging event, students had to identify 10 insects, 20 plants, 20 seeds and 20 diseases or deficiencies of plants.
After individual agronomy competition, students worked as four-person teams during a written exam. This year they were given one hour to plan a field of soybeans that included herbicides, fertilizer and planting and harvesting schedules.
“The judging helps students perfect their skills for upcoming livestock judging contests at county fairs and by FFA organizations,” Thirey said.