Aggies’ Livestock Judging Contest Attracts Record 1,367 Students

March 20, 2019

Agronomy, Dairy, Equine and General Livestock Winners Announced for Annual Competition

Where else on March 6 in the United States were well over a 1,300 teenagers gathered without a single cell phone visible? Smart money says nowhere but at the Wilmington College Aggies’ 61st annual Livestock Judging Contest.

PICTURED: High school FFA and 4-H students judge sheep at this year’s record-breaking Aggies’ Livestock Judging Contest.

The time-honored event attracted a record 1,367 high school students from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky to hone their skills at agronomy and judging swine, sheep, goats, equine, beef and dairy cattle.

Winning teams were: Agronomy, Miami Trace High School Future Farmers of America (FFA); Dairy, Versailles FFA; Equine, Butler Tech FFA; and General Livestock, Botkins FFA.

Billed as the largest competition of its kind east of the Mississippi, WC’s Livestock Judging Contest represents real life application and a hands-on learning experience for both the high school students and WC’s agriculture students that stage the event.

Harold Thirey, assistant professor of agriculture and Aggies adviser qualified the more than 1,300 high school 4-H and Future Farmers of America members as constituting at least a “modern-day record” during his more than 40 years as a faculty member. The previous high mark was 1,329 in 2016.

“The Aggies pulled this off superbly,” he said, noting the contest is a student-produced event, from booking the facility and publicizing it with high school students to securing the livestock and hosting an activity that draws the interest of so many persons wishing to hone their judging skills in advance of summer fairs and other competitions.

“The agriculture faculty is proud of our students,” Thirey added, citing Aggies president Calla Henry for her leadership role.

He noted that successfully attracting hundreds of high school students to the Wilmington College activity is a result of building credibility over the years and becoming recognized for staging a high quality event.

“Where else can you find 1,000-plus 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.”

Thirey said the competition represents one of the distinct components of the College’s agriculture program, which was established in 1948 and has become WC’s largest academic offering.

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

Wilmington College’s Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree program features concentrations in agricultural business, agronomy, animal science, equine business management, agricultural communications and agricultural education. This fall, WC started a new concentration in food policy and agriculture advocacy. Also, the College offers minors in equine studies and sustainability.