Students compete in agriculture and livestock competition

Contestants Jed Gunderson (left), Lexie Garrett (middle), and Josslyn Allen (right) work on their team quality assurance exercise on Feb. 17, 2018 at the Kentucky 4-H Livestock Skillathon. This team competition in the event had contestants show their ability to read a medicine label, calculate withdrawal times, complete a treatment record and make responsible management decisions regarding quality assurance.

Amelia Hicks

Kentucky’s brightest young agriculture enthusiasts showcased their knowledge of agrarian sciences at the 4-H Livestock Skillathon on Saturday at the WKU Agricultural Exposition Center.

The annual Livestock Skillathon, hosted by the Kentucky 4-H club, tests young people between the ages of 9 and 18 on their farming knowledge. Contestants are divided into three age groups. Students compete individually and in teams to achieve the highest test scores.

Henry Caldwell, a father of a competitor from Fleming County, said the competition is designed to promote agricultural skills in students. The Skillathon also fosters a sense of teamwork and networking.

“This is our future,” Caldwell said. “These are the farmers of tomorrow.”

The 4-H club has over 6 million members across the nation, providing educational and leadership opportunities to students, according to the 4-H website. Their programs include camps and after-school clubs in addition to the Skillathon.

Competitors are tested in categories such as hay judging, retail meat cut identification and equipment identification, according to the Skillathon handbook.

Hay judging includes ranking hay samples on quality of aroma and color, according to the handbook. Senior competitors are asked to score hay samples based on not only the quality but also the nutritional requirements of the species being fed.

Retail meat cut identification, according to the handbook, includes identifying cuts of meat by name, species and wholesale cut of origin.

Likewise, the handbook describes the process of livestock and meat equipment identification. Students are expected to correctly identify tools and their proper use.

Melanie Griffin, a competitor from Scott County, competed in the intermediate division. She said she enjoys competing at the Skillathon.

“I get to compete with all my friends and meet new people,” Griffin said.

The day ended with an award ceremony in the arena of the Ag Expo Center. The top-10 scoring individuals and top-five scoring teams in each category were recognized for their achievement.

The overall highest scoring team from the senior division will represent Kentucky at the National Skillathon Contest in Louisville this November, according to the handbook.

News reporter Amelia Hicks can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].