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University of Illinois Extension serving Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam Counties

LaSalle County
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Oglesby, IL 61348
Phone: 815- 224-0889
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Princeton, IL 61356
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1689 North 31st Road,
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Ottawa, IL 61350
Phone: 815-433-0707
FAX: 815-433-5454
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Suite 4
Henry, IL 61537
Phone: 309-364-2356
FAX: 309-364-2804
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News Release

Accent photo

Hot day, hot competition at state 4-H livestock judging contest

In photo: L to R back row: Karly Reel, Emma Freebairn, Clay Sundberg, Kara Freebairn, Dalton Walter, Wayde Collins

L to R front row: Karson Sundberg, Kameron Hastings, and Ian Sundberg.

Hot day, hot competition at state 4-H livestock judging contest

With a heat index exceeding 105 degrees Monday, it might have been easy to get distracted during this year’s Illinois 4-H State Livestock Judging Contest. Despite the heat, 175 4-H members showed up to the University of Illinois campus physically and mentally prepared to tackle eight classes of live-animal evaluation, as well as question classes and three sets of oral reasons.

The competition was just as hot as the temperature. Two 4-H members in the senior division were tied after the five hours of live placing and oral reason competition. Eric Shafer of Christian County edged out Emma Freebairn of LaSalle County for first place after the tie-breaking protocol was followed.  Also participating from LaSalle County were Sundberg, Kara Freebairn, Dalton Walter, and Wayde Collins in the senior division.

In the junior division, Karly Reel of LaSalle County took fourth place. Also participating from LaSalle County were Ian Sundberg, Kameron Hastings, and Karson Sundberg in the junior division.  

The contest is conducted by U of I animal science department staff and coordinated by Daniel Shike, Parker Henley, and Jack Oattes, in cooperation with U of I Extension 4-H animal science educator Dan Jennings.

 “Livestock judging teaches skills that are really beneficial,” said Justin Lewis, U of I animal science teaching assistant. “In addition to correctly evaluating animals in a short time frame, you must learn good note-taking habits that are logical and simple so you can recall them later in the day.”

Lewis evaluated all the seniors in the beef oral reasons portion of the contest. In this part of the contest, contestants must give an oral defense of the placings they made earlier in the day during the live evaluation.

“I’m looking for accuracy, first, but also good flow during their presentation,” Lewis said, adding the youth should strive to use correct livestock terminology and an engaging tone of voice during their oral defense.

Lewis said his 4-H livestock judging experience prepared him for his role as a U of I teaching assistant where he lectures classes of 400 students.

Joining Lewis as reasons judge was Dalton Lemenager, a member of the 2017 state 4-H livestock judging team.  Lemenager admits that livestock judging takes a lot of time. “4-H is a choice,” he said. “For me, it’s one of the building blocks to being successful in life.”

“4-H helps me with learning good time management,” Jasper County 4-H member Miranda Ochs said. Fellow teammate Will Ochs says he is learning skills he needs for improving his livestock operation, as well as improving his social skills.


About 4-H: Illinois 4-H empowers and prepares Illinois youth for success. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois, affecting the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs, groups and short-term programming.

For Further Information Contact:

News Source: Dan Jennings, Extension 4-H Animal Science Educator, 815-395-5710

News Writer: Judy Mae Bingman, Extension Media Communications Specialist, 217-300-2113