“Cattle” and “communication” aren’t two words that most people would necessarily link together. When used to describe Oklahoma State University’s award-winning animal science judging teams, however, the words together make perfect sense.
OSU’s meat animal evaluation team recently won the national championship at the 2014 Meat Animal Evaluation Contest in Lubbock, Texas, defeating the other 11 teams from universities all over the U.S. It was OSU’s second time in the last four years to claim the title.
Earlier in 2014, the OSU livestock judging team claimed the title of champion team at both the National Western Stock Show in Denver and the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo in Jackson, Miss.
The OSU Department of Applied Animal Science sponsors four other judging teams in addition to the meat animal evaluation and livestock judging teams: the dairy cattle judging team, equine judging team, quadrathlon team and the meat judging team.
Each team has unique aspects when it comes to membership and competition, but all have several things in common. For example, those who participate must have a love of animals, the desire to work as a team, a capacity for analytical thinking and, most importantly, great communication skills, says Dr. Blake Bloomberg, OSU livestock judging team coach and assistant professor for the applied animal science department.
Many members join for job preparation and experience. Some of the most successful breeders and influential leaders in the livestock industry trace their roots back to participation on competitive livestock judging teams.
From a competition standpoint, the school’s livestock, meats and horse teams have finished in the top three teams in 79 percent of the contests they have participated in, winning more than $62,000 in academic scholarships and prize monies, says Bloomberg.
Accolades and scholarships are just a small part of membership; students also learn skills for life and gain advantages to further their professional ambitions. Lessons in responsibility, leadership, pride and dedication are all part of livestock judging, says Bloomberg.
“The students who graduate through our judging program learn and perfect the art of communication,” he says. “This is one of the biggest reasons our students are so heavily recruited into various job markets.”
Team members typically graduate with a degree in animal science, food science, agricultural education or agricultural communications.
“The judging team members at Oklahoma State are the absolute reason the team has received the success and recognition that it has,” Bloomberg says. “Oklahoma has always been full of talented students and we strive to recruit the top students from all parts of the U.S.”