URBANA, Ill. – Illinois 4-H members were back in the showring for the 2021 State Livestock Judging Contest. Instead of leading animals, these young members were acting as judge, evaluating groupings of cattle, hogs, and sheep against a standard for breed characteristics, physical conformation and structure, and gain efficiency.

“The contest teaches evaluation skills the livestock stewards can take back to their own herds to improve efficiency and performance,” says Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension 4-H animal science educator. While the focus of the program is livestock, youth learn and develop many different skills throughout the program.

“Livestock judging helps students be strong decision-makers,” says Tony Dupuis, state livestock judging team coach and Illinois graduate student. “They have to make decisions quickly, and then be ready to stand behind those mentally and orally.”

Team coaches help teach technical judging skills; positive youth development is always a focus.

“This program also helps students develop their public speaking abilities and to be really flexible and adaptable,” says Dupuis. “We don’t tell students what kind of livestock they should like. We guide them with picking out the differences between livestock and the merits and potential problems.”

Youth participant Lauren Mohr of Carlock echoed the growth opportunities that come through livestock judging.

“I really like the challenge of it,” says Lauren. “It’s helped me become more confident in myself and the decisions that I make.  I’ve grown up on a diversified livestock operation, and it’s helped me at home to really develop my eye.”

For any youth considering getting into livestock judging events or new to the field, Lauren offers this advice. “Just go for it and give it a try. You learn that it’s okay to be wrong and it’s okay to try. 

"It’s challenging, and it takes time, but livestock judging has become a passion of mine.”

Members of the State 4-H livestock team which will advance to national competition at the North American International Livestock Expo in November. Members of that team will be selected in additional tryouts this summer. The Illinois 4-H Foundation and Illinois Farm Bureau supports livestock judging teams participating in national competition.

The results of the 2021 Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Contest include:

Top Junior Individuals: Addysen Link, Knox County, first; Hollie Luthy, Brown County, second; Ava Johnson, Knox County, third; Isabel Stohlquist, Kane County, fourth; Ruby Gittings, Henderson County, fifth; Anna Serven, Fulton County, sixth; Maci Brooks, Warren County, seventh; Ethan Stohlquist, Kane County, eighth; Sam Nightingale, Henry County, ninth; and Ava Tate, Marion County, tenth.

Top Junior Teams: Knox County team of Ava Johnson, Addysen Link, Abby Cain, Lauren Johnson, Coach Bill Hennenfen, first; Boone County team of Daniel Richardson, Ethan Stohlquist, Isabel Stohlquist, Jacob Webb, Coach Cathy Richardson, second; Henry-Stark Counties team of Sam Nightingale, Chet Gillespie, Brayden Hardin, Tyson Gillepsie, Coach Kelly Ellerbrock, third; Brown County team of Marshall Gallaher, Hollie Luthy, Mayleigh Perry, Coach Matthew Perry, fourth; and Champaign County team of Brenna Bartlow, Lane Beyers, Hunter Shike, Max McCabe, Coaches Dan and Jennifer Shike, fifth.

Top Senior Individuals: Ty Knodle, Christian County, first; Cole Paulek, Christian County, second; Morgan Richardson, Boone County, third; Katelyn Engel, Knox County, fourth; Ethan Emken, Knox County, fifth; Cole Ellerbrock, Henry County, sixth; Kade Boatman, Boone County, seventh; Kashen Ellerbrock, Henry County, eighth; Anna Webel, Knox County, ninth; and Brayden Musgrave, Pike County, tenth.

Top Senior Teams: Boone County team of Morgan Richardson, Tyler Lee, Kade Boatman, Kendall Boatman, Coach Cathy Richardson, first; Knox County team of Jack Link, Ethan Emken, Dane Hennenfent, Anna Webel, Coach Hennenfent, second; McLean-Livingston-Woodford counties team of Lauren Mohr, Brian Clapp, Emerson Tarr, Chloe Boitnott, Coach Jesse Faber, third; Christian County team of Drew Mickey, Cole Paulek, Emma Pistorius, Liam Steward, Coach Sue Schafer and Carla Mickey, fourth; and Henry-Stark counties team of Cole Ellerbrock, Kashen Ellerbrock, Slone Windish, Ryan Murphy, Coach Kelly Ellerbrock, fifth.

SOURCE: Dan Jennings, 4-H Youth Development Educator, Animal Systems, University of Illinois Extension
WRITER:  Carissa Nelson, 4-H State Media Communications Manager, University of Illinois Extension

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.