Virginia's 4-H Skillathon Team placed first overall and the 4-H Livestock Judging Team placed third in their respective contests at the North American International Livestock Exposition, held in Louisville, Ky., in November.

“I am very proud of the success of the teams which represented Virginia at this year's national livestock contests. A great many individuals contributed to the success of these teams through coaching and training inputs, and by providing the support, which enabled them to travel and compete,” said Mark Wahlberg, Extension 4-H livestock specialist and coach of the livestock team. The ribbons, plaques, and trophies won by this year’s livestock judging and skillathon teams are a reflection of the quality of the entire program which they represent.”

The Augusta County Stockmens Team represented Virginia in the skillathon contest and ranked first out of 17 teams. The skillathon contest is a comprehensive test about livestock. Team members possess a wide range of knowledge relating to cattle, swine, sheep, and goats. They must apply information about feeding, housing, marketing, health, quality assurance, and end product.

Virginia dominated the skillathon competition, winning by 80 points over the team from North Carolina. Bobby Strecker of Rockbridge Baths, Va., won first place overall; Logan Turner of Staunton, Va., finished second; and Christian Deavers of Crimora, Va., was fifth. Marshall Slaven of Weyers Cave, Va., also competed. Virginia last won the skillathon contest in 2003.

Virginia’s 4-H Livestock Judging Team, composed of Strecker, Bly Patterson of Grottoes, Va., Lacey Koontz of Harrisonburg, Va., and Laura Kate Reeves of Mount Solon, Va., was also successful in its contest, placing third overall out of 29 teams. The team was required to rank 11 classes of livestock – including four beef-cattle classes, three swine classes, three sheep classes, and one meat-goat class – and to present four sets of oral reasons.

Strecker took eighth place overall in livestock judging – the first time an individual has finished in the top 10 in both national contests in the same year. Patterson placed 19th, and Koontz finished 21st out of the 114 competitors. Strecker and Reeves also finished in the top 10 in swine judging.

The North American International Livestock Exposition is the world's largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition. Ten different species of livestock are represented in the exposition, and the purebred beef and sheep events are the largest in the world.

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