It took five years, but the Gosper County junior livestock judging team finally won the very prestigious and competitive Nebraska Classic Livestock Judging Competition in Kearney recently. The team consisted of Rianna and Sheridan Chaney, Zach Dickau and Abby Scholz.
With more than 50 of the best livestock judging kids throughout Nebraska and Colorado vying for $2,000 in prizes, it was the Junior team from Gosper County that had their best day ever. Junior competitors judged five classes of beef, two classes of hogs, two classes of sheep and one class of goats. Kids also gave three sets of orals reasons, a one-to-two minute oral presentation to a judge in a room explaining and defending their placing.
Sheridan Chaney won the contest with a score of 614 out of a possible 650. She also won beef, captured the top award in sheep and was 3rd place in swine. She tied for first place overall reasons score with a score of 138, broken with a tie breaker giving her the 2nd place award in oral reasons.
Rianna Chaney was 6th overall in the contest with a score of 578. She was 4th overall in sheep, 5th overall in oral reasons and 10th in beef.
Zach Dickau was 11th overall in the contest with a score of 566. He was 8th overall in oral reasons, 7th overall in beef and 16th in swine. Abby Scholz was 22nd in beef and 25th in oral reasons.
In addition to winning the contest, the team tied for champion reasons team, but with a tie breaker ended up reserve champion junior reasons team. They were also first place team in sheep, first in beef and 3rd place team in swine.
The Gosper County Team B of Carsen Reiners, Garrett Scholz and Whitney Dickau also had a great day. They were 9th place team in swine and 10th place team overall. We are extremely proud of all of these young people.
Carsen was 9th overall in swine, 16th in sheep, 27th in oral reasons and 32nd overall in the contest. Garrett was 18th in sheep, 24th in swine, 34th in oral reasons and 33rd in the contest. Whitney was 41st in swine.
All seven kids had attended the South Central Livestock Judging Clinic and Contest held earlier in June in Bladen. The Dickaus and Chaneys participated in the NCTA (Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture) Livestock Judging Camp in Curtis in May.
Most of the kids completed a three-day University of Nebraska-Lincoln livestock judging camp right before the Nebraska Classic Livestock competition. The Gosper County youth worked with head livestock judging coach, Brad Bennett and met most of the UNL livestock judging team members. They worked with them during the intense three-day camp, improving note taking, livestock terminology, oral reasons delivery and livestock evaluation.
More importantly, the kids learned that all the UNL livestock judging members started out in two-year colleges in Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, and Colorado on full scholarships to be on the livestock judging team. The UNL team members inspired the kids and told them that hard work does pay off.
Recently three Gosper County youth returned from judging camp at K-State in Manhattan, Kansas and worked with head livestock judging coach Chris Mullinix. “The best thing you will ever do to complement your education is livestock judging,” Mullinix told the 53 kids attending the camp from 12 states from California to Maryland.
“Livestock judging will open doors and provide opportunities,” he told the kids. “Opportunities to do what you love. I've had the opportunity to judge in 40 states and out of the country.”
Livestock judging teaches youth much more than livestock. More importantly it improves decision-making skills, cognitive thinking, ability to think fast, articulate your thoughts, defend your decisions and improves your public speaking skills.
Mullinix encouraged kids to stick with judging and practice, practice, practice. Livestock judging will lead to great opportunities in the future. “You might wake up every morning like me and go to your dream job, but it doesn't feel like work.” Mullinix added.
Going into her fifth year as head coach of the Gosper County livestock judging team, Becky Chaney said she was incredibly proud of the kids' dedication to the program.
“There are about 24 kids who are judging,” Chaney explained. “Some kids have time for eight to 10 contests per year and others one or two, but any exposure to livestock judging is a real plus.”
According to Chaney, the enthusiasm of the youngest 4-H youth is so contagious. “When I have eight-year-old boys asking me when the next judging practice is, it makes me so excited for the next crop of kids starting in the program,” Chaney said. “The future is looking bright for the Gosper County livestock judging program and I'm looking so forward to working with these kids.”