Being involved in 4-H allows various opportunities for youth to be engaged, it allows them the opportunity to explore careers, express ideas, and allows them to develop life skills. Through the involvement in 4-H, members are able serve on the Livestock Judging Team. As a Livestock Agent this is by far one of my favorite teams, not because I am the coach, but because of the value in skill set it offers to the members who participate. Livestock judging is comprised of evaluating different species of livestock which include beef cattle, swine, goat, and sheep. Members of the teams are asked to evaluate species of livestock based on selection criteria of muscle, structure, volume, and balance. Members of the intermediate and senior teams are required to deliver oral reasons to a judge to justify their placing while utilizing correct terminology. Members of all age groups are often asked questions based on the look or performance of the livestock that require them to answer for points toward their total score. Members may think they are just judging livestock, but they are building life skills that will make them valuable leaders and true assets to their communities. Some of the skills members learn are decision making, critical thinking, self-confidence, public speaking, and advanced social skills.
Decision Making and Critical Thinking
Members must work to evaluate the four animals presented in front of them using the guide of selection criteria that must be memorized to decide on how to place the animals in 10-15 minutes. Members think critically about the placing of the animals. Participants are also asked to take notes of the animals and then are later asked questions about specific characteristics of the animals. This also guides their decisions and asks them to think critically about the importance of different characteristics when placing livestock.
Self Confidence and Public Speaking
Members of the team are asked to participate in practices through sharing their placings in front of their peers. Members are also asked to deliver oral reasons to justify their placings to their coach during practices and a judge during the contest. Being asked to present at different levels encourages participants to be confidently engaged in public speaking. This gives youth the opportunity to learn effective communication strategies when communicating with others, allows them to build confidence in their decision-making, and creates a comfortable place where they can learn how to speak in front of others.
Advancing Social Engagements
Members work to practice together, gain knowledge together, boost each other up, and judge livestock together. This gives youth an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals like themselves to work together to achieve a common goal. This creates a comfortable atmosphere for team building and long-term friendships that will last a lifetime. Livestock judging also allows families to connect with other families.
Livestock judging brings youth to the table but the skills they leave with are extremely valuable to life and can have a strong impact on their futures.