Victory at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition is more than winning a contest
MSU Collegiate Livestock Judging team offer LIFEstock advice learned along their road to success at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition judging contest.
For almost a year, seven students from the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University have been perfecting their animal evaluation skills. These young adults, along with their coaches, have spent countless hours and miles to master the skills of placing a class of animals, but more importantly, defending that position with a set of oral reasons. This hard work and dedication was evident with the team’s victory at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 26-Oct. 4, 2015. In addition to placing highest overall among 12 collegiate teams, the MSU students also received numerous individual honors in various divisions.
This victory is an achievement the team is very proud of, however, they also realize that the most important lessons of judging happen away from the competition. When asked to reflect on their experience the last 10 months and share the lessons learned, the team offered these words of wisdom:
- Set personal goals.
- Work hard and do not give up.
- Believe in yourself, but remain level-headed.
- Be both a humble winner and a graceful loser.
- Take the opportunity to get to know your opponents and build connections with them.
- Appreciate the personal sacrifices from your coaches, volunteers and families.
- Always be confident in your decisions.
- Keep it simple. Avoid small errors when possible and learn from all of your mistakes.
- View every class as an educational opportunity.
- Support your teammates through every step; consistency is the key.
The advice from the team is especially important to share with young 4-H members who are a just beginning their own personal journeys in judging and life. Animal judging teaches life skills in a unique way that youth and young adults will carry and use throughout their entire life. As summed up by the collegiate team: LIFEstock judging, the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately.
The hustle was certainly worth it for these seven students. With two major contests left this year, the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri in October and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky in November, they continue to practice and refine their judging abilities. No matter the result of these final contests, the team has already gained so much that they will take with them throughout their future careers.