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Prairie Heights defends 4-H Livestock Judging crown


With two of the top three individual performers leading the way, Prairie Heights maintained its place as the county’s top team in Tuesday’s 2013 LaGrange County 4-H/FFA Career Development Event. Some 90 students from the three county schools participated in this year’s competition which was marked by seasonal weather and a variety of judging samples.

The competition began at the Young Family farms southeast of LaGrange, where the students evaluated classes of market cattle and hogs. The contest then shifted to the Gary Yoder Farm, where contestants judged breeding sheep before winding up at the 4-H Fairgrounds with a class of Boer goats.

A Prairie Heights FFA team coached by Ben Leu amassed 859 points to edge a second Panther team with 851. Westview took third with 808 points. Lakeland FFA scored 753 to finish fourth and complete the eligible teams representing LaGrange County in next week’s nine-county area competition in Shipshewana.

Prairie Heights’ Evan Gilliland led all participants with 303 points, narrowly edging teammate Logan Mettertt’s 301. Westview’s Brittany Kitchen finished third with 295. Lakeland was led by Brittney Bontrager with 263 points.

An abbreviated contest for junior high students was also conducted in conjunction with the high school contest. Westview’s Daryl Bontrager, Lyndon Fry and Paul Hostetler were the high scorers in the junior high competition.

In addition to Leu, the other county coaches are Katie Allen at Lakeland and Paul Baker at Westview.

Each county high school will be represented at the area competition as the top four units earn the right to move on to the Purdue Area XI Dairy and Livestock Career Development Event (CDE) on April 18 in Shipshewana.Area competition brings together contestants from the nine counties of Northeastern Indiana to compete for spots in the annual state contest, to be conducted this year on May 18 at Purdue University.

Judging in 4-H/FFA career development events offers youth opportunities to cultivate life skills such as sample discrimination, reasoning, decision-making, and speaking ability. The livestock judging competition tests the students’ ability to observe, evaluate, and rank classes of livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, and swine using established livestock evaluation standards. The contestants then justify their rankings to officials with oral presentations.

County 4-H and FFA contests are sponsored by the LaGrange County 4-H Club Association and the county FFA chapters. Vocational agriculture teachers, 4-H volunteers, and Purdue University Cooperative Extension staff coordinate the contest. This year’s competition was officiated by volunteers Cheryl North and Brian Gilliland and LaGrange County Extension Director John Emerson.