The University of Missouri's Trowbridge Livestock Center, in Columbia, will be buzzing with activity Saturday, March 11, when more than 1,000 Missouri youths gather to compete in the 11th annual Missouri Youth Livestock Grading and Judging Contest.

The annual competition, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the University of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is designed to improve the state's livestock industry by teaching youths and adults how to evaluate livestock using USDA grade standards.

"This event plays a key role in improving the way producers judge and market livestock," said John L. Saunders, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "It also provides our young people with the training and skills necessary to make sound marketing decisions, which are important for a future career in the agricultural industry."

Participants will compete in several activities, including keep-cull classes and traditional judging and grading. In addition, this year's contest will feature a grading workshop for students in grades nine and lower. Participants will learn how to apply USDA grades, when to keep or cull livestock and how to judge animals in competition. Finally, adult contestants, 21 years and older, who score above 80% in adult competition, may have their names included on a suggested list of certified livestock judges. This list is disseminated statewide for a variety of activities, including county fairs, competitions and educational and leadership events.

Contest registration is $6 per person, which includes lunch. Deadline for registration is Feb. 17. Registration forms are available from university Extension offices, vo-ag teachers or by writing the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Market Development Division, Youth Grading and Judging Contest, PO Box 630, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or by calling 573-751-4339. There will be no registration the day of the contest.

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