Ohio FFA member wins inaugural Bison Junior Judging Contest
Lamar, Colo. FFA Chapter places second in team division
Eighteen young people, ages 13 to 19, from four different states competed Jan. 21 for top billing in the National Bison Association's Inaugural Junior Judging Contest. The contest was held at the National Western Stock Show, Denver, Colo., in conjunction with the NBA's 2009 Gold Trophy Show & Sale.
The top placing individual from Clear Fork FFA , Bellville, Ohio, and winner of a $1,000 scholarship was Ethan Fry, a high school senior.
"I thought it (bison judging) was great. I've done livestock judging, but this is the first bison judging contest I've ever entered," Fry said.
Fry, who works in his family's processing plant, plans to attend community college after high school graduation this spring to become an electrical linesman. Despite not having judged real bison previously, Fry's Advisor Adam Staley said the FFA members have been studying buffalo and working on anatomical terminology to prepare them for the contest.
According to Fry, Staley learned about the contest from a flyer distributed by the NBA and decided to incorporate it into the Clear Fork FFA Chapter's biannual trip, which includes a stop at the NWSS.
Coming in second individual was Marielle Graese, Rice Lake, Wis. Graese's family operates Northstar Bison, and she also has experience working in a processing facility.
"I'm glad to have finished well but also am excited to see so many kids from outside the industry coming to judge and to learn about bison," Graese said.
Third place individual was Steven Broeske, also a Clear Fork FFA member from Bellville, Ohio.
Placing first in the team category was a three-person team from Clear Fork FFA, Bellville, Ohio, which in addition to Fry, included David Weymiller and Kaitlyn Miller.
Second place team from Lamar FFA, Lamar, Colo., was comprised of Elise Perez, Collette Montgomery, Brittnany King and Kayla Olvera.
Third place team, also from Lamar FFA, Lamar, Colo., included Austin Peck, Justin Harmon, Sable Sorrow, and Courtney Brown.
Both Lamar teams were coach by Lamar FFA Advisor Charity Stocking.
Other contestants included Josiah Higgins, Genoa, Colo.; Andrew Philipson, Wolcottville, Ind.; and Stacie Life, Sarah Laux and Lizzy DeWitt all from Bellville, Ohio.
The NBS's Junior Judging program is based on criteria used in 4-H and FFA livestock judging contests. Each contestant judged four classes and gave one set of oral reasons. The bison judging program is a brainchild of NBA member and Stratford, Okla., veterinarian Dr. Gerald Parsons, who was recently elected to serve as International Director on the Canadian Bison Association Board. Parsons proposed taking the contest to the national level after success with bison judging contests within the state of Oklahoma.
"I was very pleased with the participation and with the preparation of the contestants," Parsons said. "The bison industry wants to attract young people to the business, and this judging contest is one way to encourage young people to learn about bison."
Bison Junior Judging awards, including the $1,000 scholarship presented to Fry, were provided by the National Buffalo Foundation. The NBA in 2008 adopted a new Junior Membership, which provides its junior members with the same benefits as it producer members but for a discounted amount of $50 annually.