The Virginia 4-H Livestock Judging Team and the Virginia 4-H Livestock Skillathon Team placed first and third at the recent North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. The event is the world’s largest purebred livestock show.

The Livestock Judging Team competed against 34 other teams in the 91st National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest and was high team overall with 2,525 points, followed by teams from Illinois and Georgia, respectively. The first-place finish as the 2015 National Champion 4-H Livestock Judging Team makes the members eligible to represent the U.S. in next year’s Royal Highland Show in Scotland, along with the second-place and third-place teams.

Virginia also placed first in cattle, fifth in swine, third in sheep and goat, and third in reasons.

The team members included:

  • Hannah Craun of Bridgewater, Virginia;
  • Caley Ellington of Broadway, Virginia;
  • Matt Ferrari (alternate) of Purcellville, Virginia;
  • Sarah Harris of Buchanan, Virginia; and
  • Blake Hopkins of Louisa, Virginia.

Individual awards were garnered by Blake Hopkins who placed fifth overall, eighth in sheep and goat, and 12th in beef cattle; Hannah Craun placed third overall, second in beef and performance cattle, and 11th in reasons; and Sarah Harris placed eighth in reasons, ninth in beef cattle, and 17th overall. Craun, Hopkins, and Harris were also named All-Americans for placing in the top 20 overall.

“The teams performed phenomenally well overall and individually,” said David Roper, 4-H youth livestock Extension specialist with Virginia Cooperative Extension and coach of the Livestock Judging Team. “I am very proud of all the work the students put into this competition and how they represented the state.”

The livestock team will travel to Europe in June 2016 and will be fundraising for the trip until then. In addition to participating in the Royal Highland Show, the group will have the opportunity to visit several other European countries to learn about their agriculture systems.

The Livestock Skillathon team included:

  • Gracie Bailey of Woodstock, Virginia; 
  • Tiffany Heishman of Strasburg, Virginia; 
  • John-Robert Helsley of Edinburg, Virginia; and 
  • Hailey Shoemaker of Edinburg, Virginia. 

Jerry Funkhouser of Edinburg, Virginia, served as the team’s coach.

The team placed second second in identification and quality assurance, and sixth in evaluation, and third overall.

Individually John-Robert Helsley placed first in quality assurance, second in identification, and third overall. Hailey Shoemaker placed eighth in quality assurance and 10th overall. Gracie Bailey placed 18th overall.

The Virginia 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Livestock Youth Development Endowment provided support for the teams’ travels this fall.

For more information about supporting these teams or any youth livestock event in Virginia, contact David Roper at 540-231-4732.


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