Wallowa County 4-Hersí livestock judging put to test

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer May 10, 2012 03:42 pm

Todd Nash led a 4-H judging competition Saturday at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds, the first of three opportunities for kids to qualify for the state team. KATIE NESBITT / The Observer
Todd Nash led a 4-H judging competition Saturday at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds, the first of three opportunities for kids to qualify for the state team. KATIE NESBITT / The Observer

Saturday afternoon Wallowa County 4-Hers got to try their skills at judging during a competition held at the fairgrounds.

It was the first of three attempts the kids get to qualify for the county’s traveling team. 

More than 50 young livestock producers judged sheep, beef and swine with Todd Nash serving as the official judge.

The participants judged two classes of four sheep each before writing down answers to questions posed by Nancy Maasdam about the animals they had seen.

After judging steers, each kid was to take ample notes in order to prepare for oral answers given later in the competition.

John Williams, Oregon State University Wallowa County extension agent, said the oral reasons portion of the contest gives the students an opportunity to explain why they placed the animals the way they did.

This gives them an opportunity to paint a visual picture of why they may have placed the animals differently than the official judge.

The judging competition is open to 4-Hers from fourth through 12th grade, but even Cloverbuds, kids younger than official 4-H age, can compete, said Extension Agent Debi Schreiber.

Williams said the judging competitions teach kids to analyze, practice decision making, defense of their position, and public speaking.

“When kids get older they begin to argue with the official judge,” said Williams.

The next two opportunities to qualify for the traveling are the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show in June and the Wallowa County Fair in August.

Schreiber said the four kids who make the traveling team will test their skills against others at the University of Idaho in the fall.