Bradley Co 4-H team claims first ever American Royal Livestock judging title for Arkansas
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Oct. 30, 2017
- Bradley Co. 4-H team claims first livestock judging title for Arkansas
- American Royal Livestock show dates back to 1899
- Considered one of the most prestigious, toughest competitions
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ALMA, Ark. – Even after a couple of long days and a rainy four hours of interstate driving still ahead of him Friday, Taylor Gwin was a little tired, but stoked. A bit more than 12 hours earlier, the Bradley County 4-H team he coached became the first Arkansas winner of the livestock judging competition at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City.
The American Royal, established in 1899 in a tent at the Kansas City stockyards, has grown into one of the most prestigious competitions on the livestock circuit. It is now an eight-week season that includes horse shows, barbecue contest and rodeo.
The Hermitage High School group dominated the field which had teams from 16 states, not only winning the overall title, but also winning first in swine, cattle and the “reasons” class, in which participants justify their placement of livestock, and taking fifth-place in sheep judging. Gwin teaches agriculture at Hermitage High and is also a county 4-H volunteer.
Each team member also excelled: Samantha Clanton won second place overall high point individual; Abby Johnson won third in overall high point individual; Madison McGhee earned 9th in overall high point individual and third place in swine; and Lupe Martinez won third place in sheep.
Gwin works the team hard and the team is tested in competition often.
“We’ve traveled a lot this year and have done judging contests in Oklahoma and all over,” he said.
I’m thankful to these kids for buying into my coaching and wanting to be successful,” Gwin said. “We have a pretty good group of kids.”
The American Royal title is the fifth national title Gwin’s teams have achieved. He has coached back-to-back national champion 4-H forestry teams, a national champion FFA forestry team and a national FFA livestock championship team. Clanton is also a member of his 2017 4-H championship forestry team.
Gwin is no stranger to the 4-H Youth Development program. He was a 4-H member too, winning a state 4-H livestock contest while in ninth grade. Livestock judging may sound somewhat esoteric, but it requires skills that will translate into other areas of life.
“Livestock judging helps youth develop life skills such as critical thinking, decision making, oral communications, and team work,” said Chelsey Ahrens, extension youth livestock specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It also provides them with opportunities to further their education and attend post-secondary schools as many two- and four-year institutions offer livestock judging scholarships.
Next year will be a building year for Gwin, as two of his team members head to college in 2018.
For more information about 4-H, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service