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More Than 1,000 Compete in WC Aggies' 54th Livestock Judging Contest

Junior Shannon Bywaters: 'I hope they see that we really care about the future of agriculture'

February 20, 2013

(ABOVE) Students evaluate sheep at the Livestock Judging Contest while (BELOW) others among the 1,082 participants encircle the hog pen rating those animals.

(ABOVE) Students evaluate sheep at the Livestock Judging Contest while (BELOW) others among the 1,082 participants encircle the hog pen rating those animals.

Nearly 1,100 high school students from around Ohio and neighboring states honed their skills at judging swine, sheep, horses and beef and dairy cattle Wednesday (Feb. 20) at the Wilmington College Aggies’ 54th annual Livestock Judging Contest.

The 1,082 students in attendance came from more than 50 schools in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Billed as the largest competition of its kind east of the Mississippi, WC’s Livestock Judging Contest, held annually at Roberts’ Arena, is one of the largest such attractions in the country and typically among the first competitions of the year.

Aggies’ treasurer Shannon Bywaters is pleased to have the opportunity to share knowledge she’s gained with “the younger generation.”

“I hope they see that we really care about the future of agriculture,” the junior said.

“Also, we want to show them that Wilmington is a great school, especially if you’re interested in agriculture. This contest is a hands-on encounter with Wilmington.”

Harold Thirey, assistant professor of agriculture, said bringing more than 1,000 high school students to Wilmington is a result about building credibility over the years and becoming recognized for staging a high quality event.

“The Livestock Judging Contest is well known by high school teachers, advisers and students involved in 4-H, vocational agriculture and Future Farmers of America,” he said.

Thirey said the competition represents one of the distinct components of Wilmington’s agriculture program, which, along with Ohio State University, is the only school in Ohio that offers a bachelor’s degree curriculum in agriculture. WC’s program was established in 1948.

“Where else can you find 1,100 students having a good time all in one place,” he said. “It’s a great thing seeing them doing something that is constructive, educational and fun,” he said.

Also, most of WC’s 200-plus agriculture majors were involved in some facet of the event.

The WC Aggies host the competition as a community service in which they share their animal judging expertise in an event in which high school students seek to perfect their skills for upcoming livestock judging contests sponsored at their county fairs and by Future Farmers of America organizations.

The contest features WC students inside a pen with as many as 10 sheep, hogs or cows. On the rails of the enclosure, the high school students observe the animals and judge the quality characteristics of the animals in each class while the Aggies manipulate the animals around the pen, ensuring everyone gets a good view of each animal.

In addition, the contest features agronomy components.

“Our College students get to work with some high quality animals and interact with sponsors (which might have some job networking applications), but the greatest satisfaction for the Aggies is simply putting on such a successful event for high school students,” Thirey said.

Wilmington College is one of only two institutions in Ohio to offer a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree. It features concentrations in agricultural business, agronomy, animal science, equine studies (minor) and agricultural education.

This fall, the College will start a sustainability minor that features a foundation of agriculture courses and others from across the curriculum.