From left, Brady Martinez, Emily Wellman and Makayla Goodnow, members of the Moffat County High School Future Farmers of America meat judging team, pose for a photo Tuesday at the high school’s agricultural shop. Their team, which included MCHS junior Tyler Hildebrandt, took the state title in meat judging during an FFA event April 30 in Fort Collins.

Photo by Bridget Manley

From left, Brady Martinez, Emily Wellman and Makayla Goodnow, members of the Moffat County High School Future Farmers of America meat judging team, pose for a photo Tuesday at the high school’s agricultural shop. Their team, which included MCHS junior Tyler Hildebrandt, took the state title in meat judging during an FFA event April 30 in Fort Collins.

MCHS meat judging team win state title, headed to national championship

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At a glance…

The Moffat County High School Future Farmers of America’s meat judging team is bound for the national FFA convention in October.

The four-member team qualified for the championship during a state competition April 30 in Fort Collins.

MCHS seniors Emily Wellman and Makayla Goodnow and juniors Brady Martinez and Tyler Hildebrandt took the grand champion title as a team.

FFA advisor: Students prepared for state competition by studying everything from food-borne illnesses to meat aging and cooking methods.

Quotable

“It was fun realizing how much you’re actually learning and how you can use it in everyday life.”

Emily Wellman, Moffat County High School senior, on studying for a competition with the high school’s Future Farmers of America meat judging team

Makayla Goodnow may never look at steak the same way again.

The Moffat County High School senior now knows what constitutes a good piece of meat, where the most tender cuts can be found on an animal, and what it means when a cut is labeled “select” or “prime,” she said, thanks all to the school’s Future Farmers of America meat judging team.

She and her teammates — senior Emily Wellman and juniors Brady Martinez and Tyler Hildebrandt — had to become intimately familiar with meat production to prepare for an FFA state competition this spring.

“It was fun realizing how much you’re actually learning and how you can use it in everyday life,” Wellman said.

They now have a state title to prove they know their stuff.

The team took first place at the state event April 30 in Fort Collins and earned their places at a national FFA convention in October.

They will be the sole meat judging team representing Colorado at the event, said Rick Murr, an agriculture education instructor and advisor for the school’s FFA program.

Martinez is ready to test his skills at the next level of competition.

“I was pretty excited … because that meant we could go to nationals,” he said about learning the team had won the Colorado title.

Taking first in the state was the realization of a goal for the two senior girls.

“We worked really hard and we were really stressed out about it because we really wanted to win,” Goodnow said.

“Last year, we really wanted to win, too,” Wellman said, but the team took second place, coming just short of their goal.

“Then we came in this year, and we were like, ‘We have to win,’” she said.

Their top finish marks the third time an MCHS meat judging team has won a state title, Murr said.

He thumbed through a book, its pages worn and darkened with use, that includes all the questions meat judging team members may encounter on a written test, one of four components in the state competition.

The volume includes details on everything from food-borne illnesses to meat aging and cooking methods.

Murr didn’t encounter that kind of in-depth knowledge until he was in college, he said.

“It’s a lot of information for a kid to have to remember,” he said.

The competition also requires students to solve practical problems, like how to find a product that best meets a customer’s needs for the least expense, Murr said.

Goodnow plans to begin studying animal science this fall at Casper College in Casper, Wyo., with hopes of becoming a livestock nutritionist. She’s also considering a career in the meat industry, she said.

But even if she never works directly in meat production, what she’s learned in FFA won’t be a loss.

If nothing else, she said, she can take that knowledge with her to the grocery store.

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