The Rockingham County 4-H Livestock Judging Team took first high team overall among 25 other teams in the National Western Invitational Livestock Judging Contest in Denver, Colorado, last month.

The team placed second in sheep, fifth in swine, and third in beef.

The four-member team included:

  • Caley Ellington of Linville, Virginia;
  • Bailey Carpenter of Mt. Crawford, Virginia;
  • MaKalyn Nesselrodt of Harrisonburg, Virginia; and
  • Hannah Craun of Bridgewater, Virginia.

In the individual competition, Ellington placed third overall and Nesselrodt placed ninth overall.

The Rockingham County students earned an invitation to the Jan. 10 contest by placing first at the state 4-H Livestock Judging Contest this past June. The event is held annually at Virginia Tech.

Contestants were required to judge 10 classes of livestock, including four classes of cattle, three of swine, and three of sheep. They also had to present six sets of oral reasons.

The team practiced by judging livestock at farms throughout Rockingham County and going over oral reasons. Additionally, the team had the opportunity to fly to Denver two days early to visit and practice at some nearby animal production facilities. During their visit, the team members visited farms in Fort Collins and had the opportunity to tour Colorado State University as well.

Coaches Dave Walker of Port Republic, Virginia, and Tammy Craun of Bridgewater, Virginia, have been working with team members throughout the year to prepare for the state and national contest.

“They practiced a lot, worked on improving their reasons, and I think they’re very happy with how they did,” Walker said. “Throughout the entire competition, they were consistent when they needed to be.”

Walker and Craun collectively have more than 40 years of experience coaching the livestock judging team in Rockingham County.

“I was so impressed with the support we had from the community,” Craun said. “We had an outpouring of support from civic organizations, religious clubs, businesses, and individuals, some who wrote us personal checks in addition to their company’s donation.”

The team has been invited to go to Scotland to compete in the International Livestock Judging Tour in June.



Written by Emily Halstead, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a communications intern for Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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