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National bison judging contest held


Twenty-three young people, ages 9 to 21, from seven different states competed Jan. 20 for top billing at the National Bison Association's Second Annual Junior Judging Contest. Jace Mortensen, representing the Brush, Colo., FFA Chapter, took home top individual honors and a $1,000 scholarship provided by the National Buffalo Foundation. In addition, Mortensen was a member of the top-placing team from Brush FFA, which also included Colton Unreih, Kelsey Hergenreter, and Leeann Seewald. Unreih and Hergenreter are from Brush. Seewald is from Hillrose, Colo.

The contest was held at the National Western Stock Show, Denver, Colo., in conjunction with the NBA's 2011 Gold Trophy Show Sale.

Bailey Spitz, Lamar, Colo., FFA, was second individual, and Lexi Wurst, also of Lamar, placed third. Second place team from Lamar FFA included Adam Wertin, Lexi Wurst, and Jolynn Rider. The third-place team was also from the Lamar FFA Chapter and consisted of Courtney Brown, Austin Peck and Bailey Spitz. Both Lamar teams were coach by Lamar FFA Advisor Charity Stocking.

"The Jr. Judging Contest was very popular last year and continues to grow, with participation growing by 25 percent and the number of states represented nearly doubling," said Dave Carter, NBA executive director.

The NBA'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 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 growing participation and interest in this contest as well as with the preparation and quality of oral reasons 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."

The NBA recently 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. Learn more at www.bisoncentral.com.

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