Meat me in Kentucky
Future Farmers of America team represents Colorado at national competition
November 7, 2014
With a ranching legacy reaching back several generations, Moffat County knows meat.
Three Moffat County High School students and one recent graduate represented the state of Colorado in meat judging at the Future Farmers of America national competition last week.
MCHS senior Jerica Delong, juniors Andrea Maneotis and Brady Springer, and 2014 graduate Brayden Peterson traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in the event from Oct. 29 to 31.
The FFA projected a total attendance of more than 60,000 people to its 87th National FFA Convention and Expo, according to the organization's website.
The MCHS team went up against 43 other teams participating in the Meat Carcass Evaluation and Technology competition, placing 17th and earning a silver rating overall.
The team qualified for the event in early May by winning the state competition. Moffat County has a solid history in the meat category, having won the state competition four times in the 13-year career of FFA advisor Rick Murr.
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"It's been a contest that we've been extremely successful at," Murr said. "And because we've had so much success, kids want to be a part of that."
In order to prepare for the rigorous competition, the four students had to spend a considerable amount of their free time practicing and studying. They were tested on everything from quality-grading and yield-grading beef carcasses to cooking methods to identifying cuts of meat.
A member of the wrestling and football teams during his years at MCHS, Peterson said the kind of teamwork and practice that FFA taught him were different than what he learned through athletics.
"We'd just have to go down and figure out if Brother's (Custom Processing) had stuff for us, print old tests from competitions to practice on," Peterson said. "We kind of figured out how to practice with each other… We put in a good chunk of time."
The competition also involved a 192-slide PowerPoint presentation that the students were tested on, which they each studied for on their own.
FFA is a national student organization that promotes "premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education," according to the website.
"It's a great way for students to get involved and better themselves and develop their own personal leadership skills that are going to benefit them throughout life and hopefully get them a better job," Murr said.
Delong has participated in FFA all four years at MCHS, but last spring was her first time in the meat judging competition, having focused on livestock judging in prior years.
"I definitely came out of my shell a lot more because I'm really shy and FFA has just gotten me into the public and made me more interactive," Delong said. "I've definitely become a better leader because of it.