Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team Advances to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland


Published on June 16 2014 10:20 am
Last Updated on June 16 2014 10:20 am
Written by Greg Sapp

The crowd erupted in cheers seconds after the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team was announced as the 2014 champions of the National 4-H Livestock Judging Competition in Louisville, Ky. The five team members embraced each other. After training all fall, they had competed against and bested teams from 31 states.

The journey to this moment began for the five team members more than a decade earlier.

"My family has been showing livestock for as long as I can remember," Tyson Schulte, a Milan native and member of the Illinois 4-H Judging Team, said. "When I was eight, I started showing cattle at the Illinois State Fair. Then I switched to showing hogs when I was ten, which I continue to show through the present."

The other four team members have similar stories. Each has a family legacy that includes showing and competing in livestock competitions at local and state fairs. Eventually, the team members transitioned to competing for themselves and continued to do so for almost a decade. Finally, in 2013, the five members progressed to the qualifying competition at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. It was at this competition that the five members were chosen as the best livestock competitors and formed the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team.

Members include Carson Hank of Aledo, Gabrielle Lemenager of Kankakee, Rob Johnson of Niantic, Amy Loschen of Kankakee and Tyson Schulte of Milan.

"In Illinois, we know the best when we see it," Governor Pat Quinn said. "Our judging team, the best in the nation, will soon show the world that we not only produce the best crops and livestock, but we also turn out some pretty impressive and talented young leaders as well. I join the entire state of Illinois in wishing the livestock judging team the best of luck in Scotland."

"This is a great opportunity and an honor for us," Chance Meteer, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the team's coach, added. "These kids worked all fall for the competition in Kentucky. When we won, it was a huge privilege for us to be asked to represent Illinois and the United States at the Royal Highland Show."

In addition to being named national champions, the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Team qualified to represent as the competing team for the United States at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland. The competition there will be similar to those held in the United States. The team will be placed in a pen with livestock and asked to judge the animals from highest to lowest quality. Unlike the competitions here, there will be more of an emphasis on judging beef and dairy cattle as well as sheep rather than poultry and hogs.

The Royal Highlands Show will be held during the first few days of the team's trip on June 19 - 22. During the last portion of the trip, the team will tour local farms in Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain.

"It is important to realize that, while these kids will be competing, that they will also be learning," Meteer said. "While we are abroad, the team will be able to tour local farms and see how they work and how the livestock thrives overseas. It will be an eye opening experience for them to encounter an industry that differs so much from ours in the United States."