HALE COUNTY 4-H MEATS JUDGING TEAM WINS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Where’s the beef? For a group of Texas 4-H’ers from Hale County, the beef was at Kansas State University, along with the pork and the retail cuts. That’s where, on Oct. 12, Jae Ebeling, Wesly Hill, Kyle Owen and Kaitlyn True won the 2006 National Championship Meat Judging Contest. Their coaches were Marcus Miller, Meagan Igo and Dr. Mark Miller, professor of meat sciences at Texas Tech University.
“Meat judging prepares students to make accurate decisions in a very short period of time and to defend those decisions,” Miller said. “We have had many medical doctors and lawyers go through the meat judging program and tell us the thing that helped them the most was their judging experience.”
Not only is this the third national championship for Texas 4-H meat judging teams, it’s the second win for Hale County, which also fielded a winning team in 2004, Miller said. A team from Johnson County won in 2005.
“This is a great win for these young people and I am very proud of them and all their hard work,” he said. “The best part is the team was coached by two members of the 2004 team. Marcus Miller, a junior at Abernathy High School, and Meagan Igo, a senior at Plainview High School were the coaches.” Igo, 17, is no stranger to championship meat judging teams, having been a member and coach of the Hale County team for three years. Meat judging involves common cuts of meats such as those available in supermarkets, Igo said. Contestants judge cuts of beef and pork, as well as retail cuts and identification. And as with any other national competition, meat judging involves hard work and concentrated effort, she said. “We practiced every Wednesday and Saturday through the summer,” she said. Team members also visited the Texas Tech University meat lab and worked with a retail outlet in Abernathy. Her experience as a member and coach of the meat judging team has influenced her choice of college majors, Igo said. She wants to attend either Texas Tech or Texas A&M University, and earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in meat science. After that, she hopes to work for an agency such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her choice is not unusual for experienced meat judges, Miller said. “Many of these students will find jobs in the meat industry and will improve the safety and quality of meats for the consumer,” he said. “Meat judging began in 1926 and is under the direction of the American Meat Science Association, which has a Web site at http://www.meatscience.org/ .”
Dr. Davey Griffin, Texas Cooperative Extension meat specialist and associate professor with the department of animal science at Texas A&M, was on the official committee for the contest this year. “The team did a great job representing Texas 4-H, which has now won the National Championship Contest for three straight years!” Griffin said. “The team was second in beef judging, fifth in pork judging, third in retail cut judging, third in total reasons, first – by 52 points – in retail cut identification and first overall.”
The results are as follows:
Beef Judging: 2nd Place Team; Kyle Owen – 1st High Individual.
Pork Judging: 5th Place Team.
Retail Cut Judging: 3rd Place Team; Jae Ebling – 2nd High Individual; Wes Hill – 7th High Individual.
Oral Reasons: 3rd Place Team;
Total Judging: 4th Place Team; Jae Ebling – 10th High Individual.
Retail Cut Identification: 1st Place Team; Kyle Owen – 1st High Individual; Kaitlyn True – 2nd High Individual; Wes Hill – 8th High Individual.
Overall Individual Competition: Kyle Owen was 3rd High Individual and was awarded a $250 Scholarship; Jae Ebling was 7th High Individual; Kaitlyn True was 8th High Individual; Wes Hill was 15th High Individual.