5 members went on the pilgrimage to Austin, Minnesota – Levi Zimmerman, Katelin Donaldson, Mike Dowling, Morgan Donaldson, and Nathan Donaldson. Saturday morning we worked out at Nathan Ray’s in Osco, IL and Schminke Genetics in Van Horne, IA later that afternoon. At these workouts, students get to practice judging alongside other FFA, junior college, and senior college judgers. We judged a total of 8 classes – 5 placing and 3 keep/cull – to help our students prepare for the contest at the National Barrow Show.
On Monday, students competed against 76 other 4H and FFA chapters – mostly Iowa and Minnesota programs with a few from Illinois and Indiana. Ridgeview was 24th overall and both Katelin Donaldson and Morgan Donaldson were in the top 25% of the contest.
This is a great opportunity for our students to learn more about the swine industry. At each of our workouts, the breeders talk each class and give their insight, as well as highlight some of the top genetic lines in the industry. It’s also a huge learning and growing opportunity – different regions of the United States focus on different traits on the live hog. It’s teaching our students how to adapt and refine their evaluation skills.
We truly appreciated the opportunity to give our students this experience. We hope to utilize these skills in the spring during livestock judging, but also to implement them as they begin to select their show projects for the summer.