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Bandera 4Hers prep for national competition

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

For the first time in the history of Bandera County 4H, the livestock judging team has qualified to compete in the national 4H competition, held in October at the American Royal Livestock Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri.

Team members Corey Flach, Courtney Flach, Scott Mangold and Cody Mayfield completed an outstanding year in competition by finishing in the top three teams both at district and state, to earn the right to take it to the next level. They were coached by County Extension Agent Sam Womble, himself a former collegiate level livestock judging competitor.

According to Womble, the team placed "in the top three of most contests they attended and several received top 10 high point individual honors. They were the Champion Team at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition and at the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, two of the larger, more recognizable contests. Cody Mayfield was the recipient of a $10,000 college scholarship as a result of individual honors at San Antonio."

Mayfield and Corey Flach will be judging livestock at the collegiate level this next semester, Mayfield for Blinn Junior College, and Flach for South Plains Junior College.

"In a livestock judging contest, contestants are asked to place 8-10 classes of livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, and swine) and answer questions or present oral reasons to an official judge justifying their placing. So, aside from learning basic livestock evaluation principles, they learn appropriate livestock terminology and life skills such as self-confidence, decision making and public speaking," Womble said.

Those skills were certainly evident when this writer recently interviewed Scott Mangold about his accomplishments in 4H.

Mangold, a senior at Bandera High School, has nine years of experience on his resume, having started livestock judging in 4H when he was in the third grade.

"I did 4H judging through the fifth grade when we stopped. But we picked it up again when Mr. Womble came to Bandera," he said. He has also worked on livestock judging as a member of FFA. In both groups, the competitors have to have passing grades in order to participate.

Most of those years he has been working with his equally competent teammates. "We've been working together for years and are close friends," he added.

The team continues to prep for the national competition and will do so on their way to Kansas City. "Mr. Womble gets us out on ranches with live animals. We take notes, he asks us questions, and we give our reasons," said Mangold. On the trip to Missouri, the team will stop at several colleges and ranches along the way to get their heads in the game, so to speak.

Even though 4H livestock judging is a team event, each member competes individually. "Once the judging starts, we can't talk. You're disqualified if you talk to anyone," Mangold explained. The judges have an Official Results standard, and each competitor's scores are compared to that standard. The score is then tallied to determine the standings.

Team members' scores are added together to determine the final rankings.

Livestock judges develop expertise in all kinds of stock. In cattle, they judge heifers and steers, in swine they look at gilts and barrows, in sheep they judge breeding ewes and market sheep, and they also have to be able to judge market goats.

In heifer judging, for example, the judges look at structure, correctness and balance, femininity and muscling, along with other standard characteristics. "The animal has to look right all around," explained Mangold. "In some contests you can touch the animal, but mostly it's visual."

Traveling to a national competition costs money, of course. Coach Womble estimates the group will need to raise between $3,500 and $4,000 to fund the trip. Everyone in Bandera County is encouraged to support this accomplished group of young people with a contribution. Stop by the Bandera County Extension Office at Mansfield Park or mail a check to Bandera 4H Council, c/o Livestock Judging Team, PO Box 756, Bandera, TX 78003.

In a time when many believe too many youth are going down the wrong road, these young people are certainly an example of excellence that this community can be proud of.

As Mangold put it, "Kids want to know if they've done well. That was important to me as a kid. It's a major thing, to be told you did well."

Tell them they did well. Write that check right now!

Pictured: Photo by Leslie Oakeson
Bandera 4H Livestock Judging Team earned a chance to compete at the national level, a first for Bandera County 4H. Members of the qualifying team included Cody Mayfield, Scott Mangold, Corey Flach, Coach and Bandera County Extension Agent Sam Womble, and Courtney Flach. They're shown with just some of their awards.