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We are in the midst of livestock judging season for North Dakota 4-H and the teams have been working hard.

The reason I wanted to share about livestock judging is because it is one of the reasons I am an Extension Agent and I believe it, along with other agriculture-related judging activities, has enormous value to our agriculture industry here in North Dakota. I hope that after you read this, you, too, will see the value. And when you see the team participants, I encourage you to give them a high-five or a pat on the back for the outstanding job they are doing representing Morton County. These youth are the future leaders in agriculture.

Receiving first-place at state events, which results in earning a trip to the national contest at the senior level, is always a goal for teams competing, but there is much more to be gained from participating in judging contests and other 4-H competitive events. Listed below are just a few of the many life skills participants can acquire. I have used livestock judging for my examples.

• Critical thinking. Participants have to analyze the class in detail and organize their thoughts to call to mind all of the material that was taught in practices in order to choose the correct placing.

• Decision making. Participants have to make decisions about the classes in a timely manner in order to complete their note taking for reasons.

• Self-discipline. Participants have to practice self-discipline in order to memorize reasons and improve scores.

• Communication. Participants practice communication skills by speaking in front of a judge.

• Marketable skills. Livestock judging gives them the basics of livestock selection, which can lead to many different careers in agriculture.

The following was written by some of the junior livestock judgers on our trip to Fargo:

“Livestock judging is a great experience for all people. For those involved in the agricultural industry, it can help you select and purchase the best fitting livestock for your operation. For those not going into the agricultural industry, it helps improve your social, memorization and communication skills. For those who don’t know, livestock judging includes selecting animals from top to bottom from a class of four, and memorizing reasons why you placed them in that order. The animals include cattle, sheep, swine and (sometimes) goats. Our dream is to one day go to the national contest. Our coaches always challenge and inspire us to push us to be the very best that we can be. So we hope that one day we can fulfill our dream of going to the national contest. We hope that after this, we will be a part of the agriculture industry, running our own ranching operations and feeding the world. We encourage those not involved in livestock judging to join because of all of the great skills and opportunities.”

This year, we have 10 junior and four senior 4-H’ers in the Morton County livestock judging program. We have participated at two contests so far, Napoleon and the NDSU Saddle and Sirloin Little “I” Contest in Fargo.

At Napoleon the juniors placed first as a team with Ty MacDonald placing second, Medora Ellingson fourth, Clayton Marohl sixth and Cassidy Strommen 16th. Also participating were Justin Bonogofsky, Grant Hauge, Cooper Strommen, Cecilia Marohl and Sheridan Ellingson. The senior team placed fourth. Competing were Jacy Hauge, who placed third, Tyrel Clarys seventh and Allison Smith 16th.

At the Little “I” contest the junior team placed second overall. The team took first in reasons and swine, third in beef and fifth in sheep and in placings. Overall individually, Medora Ellingson placed seventh, MacDonald 10th, Cassidy Strommen 17th and Grant Hauge 28th. Also in reasons, MacDonald was fourth and Medora Ellingson was fifth; in beef, they were eighth and third, respectively. In swine Cassidy Strommen took fifth and Medora Ellingson sixth. Others participating in Little “I” were Bonogofsky, Clayton Marohl, Cooper Strommen and Karsten Peterson.

We will participate in the West River Judging Contest in Beulah and the 4-H State Livestock Judging Contest in Fargo in the coming weeks. The 4-H’ers have been working hard and we are very proud of their accomplishments. Their future in livestock judging is bright.

Marissa Leier is the agriculture and natural resources Extension agent with the NDSU Extension Service/Morton County. Leier has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Dakota State University.