“Do you have any hammers?” is an old question livestock judging coaches would ask each other about their teams. A hammer is a really good judging team member that is capable of winning the contest because of their reasons skills and their evaluation abilities are excellent. On Tuesday, November 19, 4-H teams from across the country came to compete in the 2019 NAILE National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest.
For some of these teams, they have been practicing for this contest for months and giving sets of reasons every day since September.
Some 4-H members began judging as early as 8-years-old when they started in the organization and have grown up being around livestock and showing their market animals.
The NAILE 4-H Livestock Judging Contest consists of youth members being able to evaluate 11 classes of livestock, give oral reasons on four of the classes, and answer questions on three classes.
Kasey Johnson, Kentucky, evaluates a set of beef cattle.
If these notebooks could talk they would show the time and effort that goes into preparing for a contest of this magnitude.
Concentrate. Focus. Evaluate.
Contestants are only allowed to have a blank notepad during the contest, their judging cards, and their knowledge of livestock. No notes or cell phones are permitted to be used during the contest and teammates cannot talk to one another during the event.
Judging at NAILE has been a goal for the Ohio 4-H Livestock Judging team all year. Jera Jordan, Ohio, has been preparing for this event for as long as she has been on the judging team. This experience was not an option until her team started judging at National Contests and attending livestock judging camps around the country. Jordan said, “I’m nervous but I’m really excited to see all of the amazing livestock at NAILE.”
Today’s youth are the future for the agriculture industry. There are many opportunities available for youth participants at NAILE including livestock judging, skillathon and quiz bowl contests.
4-H livestock judging coach, Greg Meyer, Ohio, said his team has “lit a fire in me to coach harder than I have in a few years.” as he reflects on his coaching career. Being disciplined with this team and setting high expectations for them to “become a hammer,” has paid off in the end. The hard work and dedication put into many practices and workouts has been worth it for teams to get to this point in their 4-H judging careers.
Will you work hard enough to become a hammer?