Virginia’s 4-H Skillathon Team placed first at the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon contest, held Nov. 14 during the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

The Virginia team placed first in identification, first in quality assurance, and fifth in evaluation. Their scores beat 18 other teams to make them the overall national champions.

The winning team included:

  • Ben Good of Mount Sidney;
  • Shannon Garber of Mount Sidney;
  • John Clouse of Blacksburg;
  • Madison Slaven of Weyers Cave; and
  • Jessica Houff (alternate) of Grottoes.

Eric Stogdale of Staunton served as the team’s coach.

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. The contest was conducted and judged by 4-H extension agents from different states.

“Skillathon is very beneficial because it opens your eyes to all corners of the livestock industry,” said Clouse. “It lets you know what’s out there and shows you how difficult it can be.”

Individual activities included livestock breed identification, livestock tools and equipment identification, wool judging, and hay judging.

Team events included livestock selection, livestock feeding and nutrition, meat and carcass evaluation, and quality assurance exercises. Members had to answer questions, perform tasks, and justify their decisions to the judges.

As individuals, Good placed first overall, Garber placed second overall, Clouse placed fifth overall, and Slaven placed sixth overall. 

“Skillathon helps members to realize their level of knowledge compared to people from across the country,” Stogdale said. “This will give them confidence in college and the workplace as they begin to decide where they want to study and what career they want to prepare for.”

According to Stogdale, the competition is beneficial for the members in more ways than just livestock knowledge. “Students learn how to communicate with the judges and how to demonstrate knowledge. They had to prepare and be dedicated to learning the material needed to be successful and how to work together as a team to solve problems,” he said.

Virginia’s 4-H Livestock Judging Team competed in the National 4-H Judging Contest, also held during the North American International Livestock Exposition. The team finished fifth in sheep and goat judging, sixth in swine judging, and eighth overall.

Team members included:

  • Cole Kaufman of Mount Sidney;
  • Chelsea Ellington of Linville;
  • Emily Dyer of Oakpark; and
  • Cora Moyers of Covington.



Written by Allison Hedrick of Chatham, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
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