When participation in the Wilmington College Aggies’ Livestock Judging Contest eclipsed a record 1,400 last year, no one could have imagined that a year later, in the midst of a pandemic, the 63rd annual event March 3 stands to break that record by thousands.
Indeed, the 2021 competition — well known as among the new year’s first and largest judging contests east of the Mississippi — is going virtual this year and promises to attract as many as 5,000 high school students from not only the traditional geographic area of Ohio and neighboring states, but it’s literally open to students from all across the United States.
The virtual presentation will allow for an unlimited number of students to participate in not only the usual one category, but in as many as they or their school determines as appropriate. The registration fees are much more affordable this year since each team/school will be charged a flat fee rather than individual fees.
Students will hone their skills in agronomy and judging swine, sheep, goats, equine, beef and dairy cattle during the competition, which will be available through professionally produced, pre-recorded videos of the animals accessible throughout the day, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
WC junior Carley Asher, secretary for the Aggies/Collegiate 4-H Club, is one of the event organizers. She said the annual Livestock Judging Contest has been a community service put on by students for more than six decades.
“When we knew it would be impossible to hold an in-person contest this year, we felt we could be successful with a virtual competition that will give participants a worthwhile judging experience,” she said. “It’s going to be different, but I like the idea of expanding the opportunity to an even greater number of students than the record 1,402 participants we hosted last year.”
The contest represents real life application and a hands-on learning experience for both the high school students and WC’s agriculture students that stage the event. The competition’s credibility as a high-quality event has been built over the years and is well known by high school teachers, advisers and students involved in 4-H, vocational agriculture and Future Farmers of America.
Asher, who competed in WC’s Livestock Judging Contest for three years while in high school, said interested students whose schools have not yet registered should contact their FFA chapter advisers for information.
Wilmington College’s Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree program features concentrations in agricultural business, agronomy, animal science, equine business management, agricultural communications and agricultural education. WC recently implemented an ag-related concentration in food policy and agriculture advocacy.
Also, the College offers minors in equine studies and sustainability, and fields an intercollegiate equestrian team.