FAYETTEVILLE – Sheep, cattle and hogs. Oh my.

Those are just some of the species 51 youths from across Arkansas and neighboring states gathered together to study at the 2018 University of Arkansas Animal Science Department Livestock Judging Camp.

The youths, between 6 and 17 years old, worked tirelessly for three days to learn about the priorities in livestock selection, update themselves on the current industry trends and improve their communication skills through the presentation of oral reasons.

“It is nice to see students learn in such a short period of time,” said Bryan Kutz, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture instructor and youth extension specialist. “It proves to me that the kids were listening and lets me know that this camp is worth providing each year.”

The campers were divided into three groups based on their knowledge level and experience. The first two days of the camp were spent in class learning the reasons and terminology associated with goats, hogs, cattle and sheep.

Kutz said the camp serves an introduction into competitive livestock judging and the information the campers learn will help them succeed at future judging competitions.

“Being on a competitive livestock team builds character and life skills essential for career placement,” Kutz said.

The second day ended with a visit to a trampoline park, before the campers put what they had learned to the test on the third day.

The campers competed in a judging contest of six classes with three sets of oral reasons. First through third place winners were announced for each group at an awards ceremony on the last day of the camp.

In the beginner group, Mikenley Travis won first place, Levi Weaver placed second and Martha Smith Gomez took third. In the intermediate group, Jacey Smith came in first, Landon Watson placed in second and Jason Calhoon came in third. In the advanced group, Abby Johnson won first, Madison McGhee took second and Jack Habjan placed third.

The 16th annual Animal Science Department Livestock Judging Camp took place June 4-7 at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center. It was hosted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the University of Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

— Emily Thompson is with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.