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Livestock Skillathon Team Places 8th in Nation

After numerous study sessions and months of fundraising, four teens representing UI 4-H Youth Development in Lincoln County traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest last November, held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition.

Wade Thompson and Dee Jay McMurdo of Richfield and Seth Dalton and Waid Dalton of Shoshone competed against teams from 20 other states. The team won the right to represent Idaho after finishing first in the 4-H state qualifying event in early 2016.

The team placed 8th overall at the national competition, 10th in team evaluation, 8th in quality assurance and 7th in identification. Individually, Seth Dalton placed 14th and Waid Dalton placed 19th in the nation, both receiving All-American belt buckles for their accomplishments.

Knowledge of Many Topics

The livestock skillathon tests a 4-H member’s knowledge and comprehension of animal science and livestock management practices. The contest provides an opportunity for youth to gain and develop production livestock skills and life skills through a competitive environment.

The contest consisted of individual and team challenges. Each team member tested their knowledge of livestock equipment; meat cut identification; breeds of cattle, sheep, swine and goats; hay judging; wool judging and quality assurance.

Effort Leads to Success

“One of the great things about our team and why we placed so high was that every single member of the team spoke at the team competition,” said Carmen Willmore, UI Extension educator in Lincoln County. “That’s an important part of these competitions, to show that they had worked together and all knew what they were doing. One person wasn’t carrying the team; they were all working together.”

After winning the state competition, the team spent the summer fundraising for the trip to the national event. They served meals for 4-H camps and worked at food booths at local rodeos and fairs. Additional funds were provided by the Lincoln County Leaders Council and District III Leaders Council.

In addition to fundraising, the team also spent countless hours studying and preparing for the competition. The team would meet once a week at the UI Extension office in Lincoln County to practice for the team competition and individuals also studied on their own at home.

“Our 4-H leader, Kerry Thompson, works really hard with the kids in the county to study for the competition,” Willmore said. “They had probably been studying for two months leading up to the state competition and another two to three months leading up to the national competition.”

Understanding the Industry

Willmore sees the skillathon as a great way for youth to learn more about the livestock industry.

“I think this is a great competition not only for kids that are already working with livestock, but for kids that maybe don’t own livestock or have that opportunity,” Willmore said. “It’s an eye opening experience and a way to better understand all of the parts of the industry. This helps them at a young age see the whole industry from a new perspective.”

The knowledge gained through the skillathon will also have an impact on those youth who decide to work in the industry.

“Being in the competition has given them a broader knowledge of the industry,” Willmore said. “Now they can come to a producer school, even at a young age, and fully understand what we are talking about. That knowledge will help them in the future if they decide to have a career in the industry.”

Four young men and an adult woman hold up ribbons and plaques in front of a sign for the North American International Livestock Exposition.
Team members, left to right, front: Waid Dalton, Seth Dalton, Dee Jay McMurdo, Wade Thompson. Back: 4-H leader Kerry Thompson

University of Idaho Extension

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St.
Moscow, ID

Mailing Address:
University of Idaho Extension
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2338
Moscow, ID 83844-2338

Phone: 208-885-5883

Fax: 208-885-6654

Email: extension@uidaho.edu

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Barbara Petty