Well, I have finally returned from what was another AWESOME show put on by the National Junior Swine Association! The 2009 National Junior Summer Spectacular was held in Louisville, Kentucky this past week and was a total success and ton of fun!!
This year's theme was Let's Fiesta and, let me just say, those NJSA members know how to party--fiesta style! The week started out on Monday with an extremely warm day of unloading practically our entire office at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (aka the Kentucky State Fairgrounds!) and decorating the West Hall. We had pinatas, mariachi men, glittery letters, lights, and maracas--oh yeah, we were there to have a good time!
On Tuesday, we finished decorating/setting up and began the tedious task of checking in and registering over 750 gilts and over 600 kids (record numbers!). Also on Tuesday was the MVP (Mentoring Values People) ice cream social and party. This year we had over 170 protege's and over 70 mentors! It was a great opportunity for some of the older NJSA members to form friendships and connections with the new and younger members. Let me just say, it is pretty awesome and fun to watch what a great time the kids had with their mentors throughout the week!
Wednesday concluded our registration and check-in and began the real exciting stuff :) That morning, we held the skillathon competition where kids ages 3-21 rotated through stations testing their knowledge of the swine industry--anything from identifying breeds and equipment to selecting boars to use in a mating scenario. While we had a couple of hang-ups (the junior and senior competitions took forever as a lot of the kids would surely tell you!), the competition was great and the members, I'm sure, learned a lot. Also that morning, entries in both the photo contest and poster contest were judged by members of the Seedstock EDGE magazine staff and other members of the livestock publication sector, and boy were they impressed by what they found! NJSA members sure rock when it comes to creativity! Later that afternoon, we started the preliminary rounds of showmanship. Judges Andy Rash and Brian Arnold did an awesome job making the cuts in each age division to their top ten, mentioning a number of times that it was one of the hardest competitions they've ever judged and praising the skill level of NJSA members!
On Thursday morning showmanship concluded with the announcement of the 2009 winners in the Novice, Junior, Intermediate and Senior divisions. Congratulations to Jenna Wheeler (N), Skylar Knapp (J), Jackson Johnson (I), and Lynsee Shaffer (S) on your accomplishments!! After that, we started right into the gilt show, where our members showed off their amazing Duroc, Landrace, Hampshire, and Yorkshire gilts. After a long afternoon of exhibition, the results were:
Champion Duroc: Spencer Malcolm, IN
Champion Landrace: Kallie Brattain, IN
Champion Yorkshire: Austin Denhart, IN
Champion Hampshire: Daniel Newnum, IN
Congratulations to these individuals for their breed champions and an additional congrats go to Austin Denhart and Daniel Newnum for their Champion and Reserve Champion overall gilts (respectively)! I can't express how impressed I am by all of these kids for their ability to dedicate the time and effort that goes into raising hogs that exhibit the best our species has to offer. Their committment to the purebred swine industry and to the betterment of themselves is definitely something to be commended!
Friday was a day of competition and awards for this year's NJSA members. In the morning, the prepared and extemporaneous public speaking contests were held. Speakers covered topics ranging from the National Animal Identification System to animal welfare and the importance of purebred hogs in a breeding system. That afternoon, the judging contest was held. Participants judged 6 classes of Landrace, Duroc, Hampshire and Yorkshire gilts and then answered questions and/or delivered sets of oral reasons to justify their placings. For some, it was their first judging contest; for others, they were professionals--either way it was an awesome event for everyone to hone their skills at selecting and evaluating swine. Later that evening, NJSA held their Annual Meeting and Pizza Party. There was a full agenda for sure! Congratulations to Mr. Lee Denzer, Livestock Judging coach at Black Hawk Junior College, this year's winner of the NJSA Distinguished Service Award! Awards for each of the week's contest were also distributed; the winner's were:
Photography: Faith Dresbach (General Ag, People and Swine), Owen Rozeboom (Humor)
Poster Contest: Ryan Michael (Breed/Assoc. Promotion), Keri Landry (Membership Recruitment)
Skillathon: Justin Sands
Livestock Judging: Micah Malcolm (Team: The Nacho Libres)
Photography: Skylar Knapp (People, Swine, and Best in Show), Yimmi Fontenot (Humor), Carli Fontenot (General Ag)
Poster Contest: Ashley Nobles (Breed/Assoc. Promotion), Connor Bowlin (Membership Recruitment)
Skillathon: Mindy Cook
Livestock Judging: Adrian Austin (Team: CCCM)
Speech: Lacy Barrett
Photography: Kinsea Hanni (General Ag), Clayton Stephens (Humor), Jessica Dresbach (People), Brock Rule (Swine)
Poster Contest: Gus Mitchem (Breed/Assoc. Promotion), Holly Hathcock (Membership Recruitment)
Skillathon: Kassandra Knauth
Livestock Judging: Kane Austin (Team: Senorita and 3 Amigos)
Speech: Caitlin Walton
Photography: Matt Bradshaw (General Ag), Kayla Overstake (Humor), Nathan Joostberns (Swine), Troy Walker (People)
Poster Contest: Kayla Overstake (Breed/Assoc. Promotion), Courtney Smith (Membership Recruitment)
Skillathon: Tyler Loschen
Livestock Judging: Lysee Shaffer (Team: Team 9)
Extemporaneous Speaking: Clay Zwilling
State Display Contest:
Cleanest and Best Theme: Michigan
Most Creative: Louisiana
Most Educational and Best Overall: Ohio
During the annual meeting, NJSA also turned over leadership as they retired members of the 2008-2009 Junior Board of Directors and installed new members to the 2009-2010 Junior Board. A huge thank-you goes to Kayla Wood, Hyatt Frobose, A.J. Lanier, Bryant Boyer, and Garrett Hamby for your term of service! Congratulations are in order for both the new members of the Board--Bailey Albright (Central Region Director), Alicia Keller and Hallie Frobose (Eastern Region Directors), Rebecca Bailey (Western Region Director), and Miles Toenyes (At-Large Director)--as well as returning members Lynsee Shaffer (President/Central Region Director), Jordan Brockhaus (Vice President/Southwest Region Director), Charlie Hensy (Secretary/At-Large Director), and Ryan Hoelscher (Southwest Director). It's been a great year and I'm sure the next one will be even better!
Saturday concluded the Summer Spectacular, starting with an inspirational message from Ray Perryman with Short Round Ministries. I have never heard him speak before and it was awesome to hear his message and sing along with a variety of inspirational songs. We rounded out our awards by honoring the 2009 NJSA Herdsman of the Year to Miss Valerie Nelson of Indiana for her selfless service to the organization and awarded the winners of both the Summer Spectacular sweepstakes competition and the All-Around Sweepstakes Circuit that has been occuring throughout this year's shows. Congratulations to the following individuals:
Novice: Jenna Wheeler, Illinois
Junior: Adrian Austin, Illinois
Intermediate: Kane Austin, Illinois
Senior: Lynsee Shaffer, Indiana
All-Around Sweepstakes Circuit
Novice: Dalaney Vickrey
Junior: Maddie Fugate, Illinois
Intermediate: Heather Storer
Senior: Troy Walker, Indiana
I know this is an extremely long posting, but I really think the kids that are members of NJSA are doing amazing things and deserve recognition for all of their accomplishments. Complete results of the gilt show and top ten contestants in each contest can be found in detail at the NJSA Show Results page. Pictures will also be coming soon so make sure to keep checking in!
This show is the largest youth livestock event in the country and would not be possible without the help of some very special people. Thank you to all of our sponsors for their generous support and to all of our volunteers and judges for their never-ending help! Without the assistance we receive from these individuals and businesses, NJSA could never have reached the outstanding level at which it currently stands.
So, with that, I'm back in West Lafayette, relaxing for the next couple of days before going back to work on Tuesday (yay for Monday off!). I cannot possibly explain how much I have enjoyed this internship and how much I look forward to the next month and a half I have left with the National Swine Registry. A little rest and relaxation and I'll be ready to jump right back in!