Former Michigan 4-H members comprise successful MSU Collegiate Livestock Judging Team

Eight former 4-H members from eight counties are learning and competing through MSU’s Collegiate Livestock Judging Team.

The Spartans practied in numerous places this spring, including 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas. Photo courtesy of 44 Farms.

The Spartans practied in numerous places this spring, including 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas. Photo courtesy of 44 Farms.

As March Madness comes to a close, other Spartan teams are also wrapping up their spring season. The Michigan State University (MSU) Collegiate Livestock Judging team concluded their spring season in late March while competing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and placing 15th in the nation. Eight MSU students, most majoring in Animal Science, have been making memories and building their knowledge and skillset by competing on the collegiate team.

One unique connection that this team has is that all eight members were in Michigan 4-H as young adults. Capitalizing on this discovery, it’s time to learn a little more about the team and their competitive Spartan Will!

Getting started in livestock judging

Bryant Chapman, former Monroe County 4-H member, explains why he joined the team. “I got started in livestock judging in college and I started because I have grown up around livestock and have always had an interest in joining the team,” said Chapman.

Former St. Clair County 4-H member, Kevin Silverthorn, found a different path to judging. “I saw the opportunity to take part in something unique and special. It’s an unparalleled experience,” said Silverthorn.

Building skills and learning

Katy Kesler, Barry County, stated, “I have learned how to see livestock, how to recall them in my mind and how to make a choice and be able to communicate why I made it or even defend my choice when necessary.”

These success statements continued through other teammates, including former Ottawa County 4-H member Emily Elmer, who stated, “I have learned how to evaluate livestock and have become more comfortable defending my decisions.”

Impact of 4-H experience

Chelsea Kronemeyer, Chippewa County 4-H member, noted, “Throughout my 4-H career, I have been able to watch judges and learn from their selections to better select my own animals. Judging at the collegiate level has helped me on a personal level to improve my own herd and evaluate livestock as a whole.”

Kate Spaans, former Kent County 4-H member, shares the same passion and experience as Kronemeyer. Spaans stated, “My experience in 4-H really helped me become passionate about the livestock industry. This led into my collegiate experience where I continue to learn and gain new experiences, allowing me to become more knowledgeable about animal selection. The experience on this team has led to greater industry connections with people that share my passion.”

Goals for the season

Goals help guide both individuals and teams to their desired endpoints. In sharing goals, Coach Adam Conover conducts the team with passion and purpose to help his students succeed in judging and in life. He stated his main goal is, “To see continual personal growth in each student as well as help lead them towards new team goals.” Conover supports his students to help them accomplish their goals and grow through the unique experience.

Team members also set goals and are looking forward to practices and competitions this fall. Bethany Myers, former Branch County 4-H member, stated, “As a collegiate livestock judger, I hope to finish the season confident in making quick, rational decisions, gathering relevant supporting details, and assertively portraying my views.”

Fellow team member Sydney Miller, former Eaton County 4-H member, has similar goals. Miller looks forward to future competitions with the goal of, “Strengthening my knowledge in all species as I try to become a more well-rounded livestock person.”

The Spartans will be back this fall with vigor ready to compete at the National Barrow Show, Keystone International Livestock Exposition, American Royal and concluding their season at the North American International Livestock Exposition.

To learn more about judging, follow the Animal Judging series. For more insight about the MSU livestock judging program, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), livestock academic specialist, livestock judging coach, coordinator and advisor of the Ag Tech Beef Management Program and Ag Tech Swine Management Program in the Department of Animal Science.

For information about getting involved in livestock judging before college, visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Evaluation page or the Michigan State University Extension website for animal science content.

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