Virginia’s 4-H Livestock Skillathon Team placed first at the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest, held Nov. 17, 2014, during the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Virginia team was competitive in all categories, placing first in evaluation and quality assurance and second in identification, and all of the team members placed in the top four overall. This is was the third time in three years that a team from Virginia has won the contest.
The Virginia team was composed of
- Simon Liggett of Mount Solon, first place;
- Cole Leonard of Greenville, second place;
- Jake McCall of Greenville, third place; and
- Cassidy Simmons of Spring Hill fourth place.
Eric Stogdale of Verona served as the team’s coach.
Overall, Virginia’s team scored 1,685 points and beat 17 other teams. Tennessee placed second, and Maryland placed third.
Skillathon is a knowledge-based competition in meat and animal sciences. 4-H members compete in a series of individual and team activities in multiple areas of livestock production.
During the team portion, the members worked together to analyze different feed rations, work a group of lambs, market a group of carcasses, make breeding decisions for a flock, evaluate a class of live hogs, and defend their selections to a judge. Individual activities included hay judging, wool judging, breed identification, equipment identification, meats identification, and a quality assurance exercise.
“In order for the team to succeed, not only did we have to put in the time at practice, but also extra effort outside of the expected,” said Jake McCall. “And I think that it taught us time management, along with helping us realize that sometimes in life, you have to put in a little extra work to get your desired outcome.”
“Skillathon allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of the livestock industry,” Stogdale said. “They need to have a solid background in nutrition, management, reproduction, and marketing; literally, they need to know the entire industry.”
According to Stogdale, the students really enjoy the format of this event. They work and communicate with the judges as well as learn to trust in each other and divide the responsibilities among themselves in the team activities. Teamwork and cooperation were keys to the team's success.