One Day, Forever Changed

One hundred thirty two youth from 32 states across the county compete in the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest Tuesday at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE).

“For some of these kids, what happens right now will stay with them for the rest of their lives, as it has for me and my family,” said John Parker, the contest’s swine operations committeeman.

Parker’s involvement in the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest dates back to 1966. Since then, he has only missed the contest one time.

The National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest previously took place in Chicago. However, over 20 years ago Parker and Richard Smith from Ohio State Extension were instrumental in bringing the contest to Louisville, Kentucky.

“This is the best place in the world to have it,” Parker said.

He explained that the most difficult aspect is putting together the classes of livestock for the 4-H’ers to judge. This year’s class of market hogs was selected from the NAILE Swine Show earlier in the week, and notably included nine Herefords, an old swine breed.

“Sometimes these kids see livestock better than any they’ve seen in their lives at this contest,” Parker said.

The 4-H livestock judging teams competing at NAILE have judged livestock at their state and local levels in order to be selected to compete at the national level. Critiques by the official judges take place Tuesday afternoon, and the official contest results are announced Wednesday at the National 4-H Livestock Judging & Skillathon Awards Breakfast.