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I had lots of fun at River Falls, being in a couple clubs and organizations. Something I really enjoyed was my participation in animal judging contests. I was in both Dairy and Poultry Judging.

Dairy Judging, at times, could be a lot of work and high stress. Coming from one of the nation’s premier dairy programs, we had a lot to live up to. There were many hours put into evaluating cattle at different farms, making decisions, and giving reasons. I always appreciated how patient Dr. Kelm was while training us for it.  Now that I’ve graduated and I am working back at home on my parents’ dairy farm, my dairy cattle evaluation skills come in handy frequently.

For a specific memory of it, the World Dairy Expo comes to mind. Being the biggest show of the year, the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Competition is fierce. Sometimes, I could be a little different in my placings than the way the rest of my team mates were. After the contest was over, the team was comparing notes and looked at me a little crazy, especially in a class of red and white Holsteins. Everyone had placed them 1234. Mine was a placing more like 3214. Oh well, I sighed. But I guess the judge of that day was a little bit off too, because at the awards ceremony, a gasp went across the room when the placings were announced 3214.  Apparently, almost everyone else had agreed with my team mates’ 1234. I placed second in that class, with a perfect judging score and was second in reasons for it.  During the class, I too thought about placing it 1234. But I decided to go with something different, because sometimes, thinking differently from the group can pay off!

I was also in Poultry Judging. Poultry Judging is interesting because it is a completely student led and coached group. With no instructors, the previous year of students is the coach for the next year of students. Because we are not a big poultry school, we are more into it for the fun of the competition. It was a nice switch from the intense Dairy Judging to the laughing and joking around of Poultry Judging. And really, Poultry Judging can be funny, looking at it from an outsider’s point of view. You stare at plates of eggs, you swing chicken carcasses back and forth looking for blemishes, you count how many yellow scales are on a chicken’s feet, weird things. At the competition, I would try my best but typically didn’t do very well. One of the trips went to Louisiana. I loved it there, a nice break from the snow of WI. We toured plantations and alligator farms. And once, I got second in the egg evaluation contest. Kids from the southern schools with poultry schools got scholarships to be in Poultry Judging, we were in it for the fun!

-Submitted by Richard Franta (Class of 2008)