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CPHS FFA students compete at McPherson
COURTESY PHOTO Finishing third out of 28 Greenhand teams and 158 individuals at McPherson recently were members of Central Plains Livestock Judging team: Cale Thompson, ninth high individual medalist; and Callun Rogers, Landon Daniels, Peyton Dody, Izzy Hurley and Sierra Marsell. Also shown is instructor/advisor Wayne DeWerff.

In the final competition of the year for the Central Plains FFAers, the kids didn’t disappoint. Once again, as they have done all year, success was on their side. South Central District Livestock Evaluation was the subject at hand, held at the McPherson County Fairgrounds. 

With the top four scores making up the composite total, Cale Thompson lead the way with a ninth high medalist finish, followed by Peyton Dody in 16th, Callun Rogers in 24th, and Sierra Marsell in 54th. It may appear that Sierra’s score may seem low, but in reality, is in the upper 34%, considering there were 158 contestants. 

Finished out the team but with scores that didn’t count were Izzy Hurley in 72nd and Landon Daniels at 111th. 

“Sometimes it could sound like a broken record, but these kids really deserve a lot of credit,” said Wayne DeWerff, instructor/advisor at Central Plains. “These students, freshmen at that, have been competing all year at a high level, as if they were the varsity team. Their scores virtually mimicked most of the upper senior team finishes.”  

In the Senior Division, albeit sophomores with little experience, the team placed 21st out of 34 teams, even giving up considerable points, leaving one plus sets of reasons on the table due to a necessary leave time in order to get back for post school activities. That would account for around 150-plus points that weren’t added to the team score, which would have moved the team up 5-8 slots. Nonetheless, a group of kids that deserves some recognition for their effort and desire. Those persons are Libby Warta, Caden Fanatia, Adyson Green, and Isiah Jensen. 

Livestock judging is quite different from some of the other contests, in that it is very subjective, identifying and defending one’s choice in choosing what they think is the best, second best, and so on, based on the “ideal” of the breed and species. There are physical traits that may well come to the forefront, however the student has to recognize and identify, then determine how much weight those characteristics carry and logically fit them into a ranked placing. 

Expertise and personal choice combined with an understanding of skeletal frame, type, and what the industry is looking based on desirable, average, or undesirable characteristics, be it market or breeding traits identify the imperative necessities of livestock selection. Each person is different; they may not value the same traits as high as someone else, being more or less critical in deciding what is most important. 

“That’s what makes livestock selection so challenging – you’re continually learning as you go what breeds and species are looking for – and that even changes periodically with the ages,” DeWerff said. What was important in the late 70’s is nearly reversed today for instance. 

It’s a constant that changes over the decades, fat versus lean, volume versus length,  width vesus flat sided, and so forth. “But In teaching students, rest assured they’re going learn how the industry changes, based on type, consumer preference, economic times, and demand,” he said. “I hope I’ve been able to instill that in the kids.

“These kids continue to impress me. I’ve been fortunate to have been their teacher and am blessed for having a part in their education,” he said. “A big congratulations and thank you goes out to my students who have competed well and represented themselves and Central Plains High School well.”