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1,000-plus Compete in WC Aggies' 56th Livestock Judging Contest

Annual Hands-On Learning Event Features Agronomy and Judging Swine, Sheep, Equine and Beef/Dairy Cattle

February 19, 2014

High school students judge sheep during the Aggies' 56th annual Livestock Judging Contest.

High school students judge sheep during the Aggies' 56th annual Livestock Judging Contest.

More than 1,000 high school students from around Ohio and neighboring states honed their skills at agronomy and judging swine, sheep, equine and beef and dairy cattle Wednesday (Feb. 19) at the Wilmington College Aggies’ 56th annual Livestock Judging Contest.

The 1,015 students in attendance came from nearly 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’ president Alexis Moser is pleased to have the opportunity to share knowledge she’s gained with her younger peers.

“We want to do everything we can to encourage their continued involvement in agriculture,” said the senior agriculture production major from Bluffton. “This contest represents real life application and a hands-on learning experience.”

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 was established in 1948 and has become WC’s largest academic offering.

“Where else can you find 1,000 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.”

Also, most of WC’s 250 agriculture majors were involved in some facet of the event.

The WC Aggies, with help from the Collegiate 4-H Club, host the annual 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 and state fairs, and by Future Farmers of America organizations.

In addition, the contest features an agronomy component.

“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.

Moser said the contest is a hands-on learning experience for WC’s agriculture students, as much preparation work is needed for everything from promoting the event to securing the animals, sponsors and judges.

“We’re in charge of 1,000 kids here today,” she said. “It’s a huge eye-opener as to how important planning is — this is a great opportunity for us, as well as the high school students.”

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 past fall, the College started a sustainability minor that features a foundation of agriculture courses complemented with others from across the curriculum.