Life skills are reinforced in the 2017 Michigan 4-H/FFA Meat Judging Contest

Skills learned through practicing and evaluating meat are tested.

Contestants evaluating beef carcasses for yield and quality grade at the 2017 Michigan 4-H Meat Judging Contest.

Contestants evaluating beef carcasses for yield and quality grade at the 2017 Michigan 4-H Meat Judging Contest.

In the third of three judging competitions in eight days, 23 youth in the 2017 Michigan 4-H/FFA Meat Judging Contest gathered their clipboards to evaluate carcasses and meat cuts in the coolers at the Michigan State University (MSU) Meat Laboratory on Friday, July 21, 2017. Fourteen youth competed in the two 4-H divisions and 13 youth competed in the FFA divisions, with four youth competing in both divisions.

Throughout the contest, which was conducted by Michigan State University Extension, youth applied a variety of skills such as decision-making and organizational skills. In the contest, youth need to make quick and decisive choices in a limited amount of time to place the meat cuts and carcasses in the correct order of the official judge. These decision-making skills come from many practices before the contest.

Participants had to organize their multiple layers of clothing and put on hair nets, hard hats and frocks to go into the contest area. Participants also have clipboards with scantrons on them, so organization skills are needed to keep track of what class they are on to fill in the correct category.

Contestants judged five classes including Beef T-Bone Steaks, Beef Short Loins, Pork Chops, Lamb Carcasses and Pork Carcasses. Contestants also identified 10 retail cuts and analyzed three beef carcasses for yield grade and quality grade. Each contestant then answered 10 questions about the Beef Short Loin class and 4-H members gave one set of oral reasons to defend their placing while FFA members completed a written exam. Once all participants completed the contest, coaches and volunteers took the contestants back into the coolers to help reinforce understandings and preferences of consumers as well as industry standards.

Contestants illustrated their ability to evaluate carcasses and identify meat through individual and team competition, as well as developed important life skills in communication and time management.

Contestants competed in three divisions including Junior 4-H, Senior 4-H and FFA. Gage Snarski for Kent County was the high overall individual in the Junior 4-H division. Winning the Senior 4-H Team division was the team from Kent County 4-H, consisting of Isaac Carr, Brynnen Gardner, Ethan Kelley and Lauren Snarski. Gardner was also named the high individual in the Senior 4-H division.

Winning the FFA Team division was the team from Careerline Tech Center, consisting of Brianna Mollitor, Jolyn Timmer and Thomas Yonker. Yonker was named the high individual in the FFA division.

High placing teams and individuals received awards sponsored by the Boar’s Head Provisions Co., INC. Congratulations to all of the contestants on their learning experience.

For more information about the contest, visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Evaluation page.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success.

To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.” 

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