The 2016 SD 4-H Livestock Judging Team is special to us at FMG.
Each of the members of the team — Tyler Bush, Cagney Effling, Chesney Effling and Colin Weidenbach — are FMG customers. Their family’s operations Bush Angus, CK Cattle and Weidenbach Ranch respectively have worked with FMG on several projects throughout the years including pictures/videos, websites and ad design. We also have the pleasure of taking their pictures in the show ring and at the backdrop at the South Dakota State Fair, Black Hills Stock Show and other events throughout the year. So, needless to say, we’ve been cheering them on from the start!
Each of these junior exhibitors has a unique story to tell, so we wanted to learn more about their past, present and future in the “sport” of livestock judging.
We caught up with a few of the team members. For a full press release on the team’s success in Lousiville, click here.
- How did you get started livestock judging?
TYLER: I grew up watching my dad judge at many different levels. I always had a strong interest in judging. I knew when I got the chance to livestock judge I’d better take the opportunity and therefore my first contest was the State 4-H Judging Contest in Huron, SD.
CHESNEY: I?ve been livestock judging for as long as I can remember. Both my parents judged when they were younger so they instilled the passion in both my sister and I. My mom judged collegiately and my dad went to the National 4-H Contest as a freshman in high school, just like I did. They are the reason that I started into it and taught me the basics.
CAGNEY: I was really fortunate to grow up in an active 4-H community. Although numbers were small our leaders still tried to give us as many experiences as possible. Livestock judging was one of those experiences that was taken very seriously. If it weren’t for my 4-H leaders and parents I don’t know where I would be in regards to livestock judging.
- What is your favorite species to judge? How about your least favorite species?
TYLER: I really enjoy judging hogs. I think they are pretty interesting pieces of livestock as far as breeding and structure goes. Now, it may come as a surprise, but judging Beef is my least favorite. I find myself having a lot of personal opinions on what I like as far as type and kind. But when it comes to contests Beef seems to be my best species on the floor and in the reasons room.
CHESNEY:?My favorite species would probably have to be cattle. I always love evaluating cattle and learning new things about cattle from my coach and teammates. My least favorite species is definitely goats. They?re so different from what I?m used to seeing and I haven?t been judging them as long as the other species.
CAGNEY: My favorite species to judge would probably be cattle. Sometimes a biased opinion can get me into trouble, but cattle are the species that I show so I enjoy evaluating them; sheep are hands-down my least favorite species. Although they are the species that I first showed as a young exhibitor my love for them definitely does not carry over to livestock judging.
- When giving reasons, how do you calm your nerves?
TYLER: I try to be cool, calm, and collected. I make sure I take accurate notes when judging on the floor, and then I know I will be able to give an accurate set. When I walk into the reasons room I take a deep breathe and look at the judge with confidence and try and give my set to the best of my ability.
CHESNEY: I am really bad at calming my nerves. I?ve had a few anxiety/panic attacks involving reasons and, well, we?ll just say they?re not my strong suit. See question 6.
CAGNEY: Drowning myself by drinking as much water as possible is generally how I calm my nerves. This includes going through a number of plastic water bottles or making frequent trips to the water fountain.
- What is your biggest accomplishment so far in livestock judging?
TYLER: This past year of livestock judging for me has been super successful. It is hard for me to pick one contest, but I must say being Reserve National Champions, being 4th overall individual, and being named an All-American status at NAILE is probably my biggest accomplishment.
CHESNEY: My biggest accomplishment as far as livestock judging goes is being on two national judging team at only 15 years old. I?m only a freshman in high school and this was seriously scary for me. I?d never judged in a national contest while the other three had. I?m honored to have been able to be along for the ride and I have come out of this with so much more knowledge thanks to my teammates and coaches.
CAGNEY: While I do have many accomplishments that I am proud of my biggest and most recent would be winning 3rd overall at the National 4-H contest and achieving All-American status.
- When traveling with your team, what has been your favorite stop?
TYLER: I have to say my favorite stop was at Voegele’s. Shannon had a great set of hogs for us to evaluate and it was pretty fun being able to practice on such high quality classes of hogs.
CHESNEY: Hands down, the Lighthouse Inn in Frankfort, Indiana. This was on our National FFA trip and this was quite possible the sketchiest hotel I have ever been to (right next to the La Quinta in Denver). Even though we feared our lives, it was an experience we will never forget.
CAGNEY: My favorite stop would have to be at Voegele Show Pigs in South Dakota. We are very lucky to have a family with such high quality hogs who was willing to host us for a workout. Also, shoutout to Sarah for the fantastic food.
- Share an embarrassing moment.
TYLER: I would probably have to say when I placed a breeding ewe class completely backwards at the State 4-H Judging Contest in 2015. It was a rough day that’s for sure.
CHESNEY: Well, remember when I said that reasons weren?t my strong suit? At the state 4-H contest this year, I was feeling a little under the weather and before I gave my last set of reasons, I puked. That was not a good day for me.
CAGNEY: Taking it back to Voegele Show Pigs. After Shannon and our coach, Daniel Weidenbach had already ran a couple of tough classes at us they decided to give us a class of heavier hogs. We generally get around 15 minutes to judge a class, well after we are already half way through the class I thought that it would be a good time to figure out if the class was a market hog class or breeding class. After asking and getting various looks of confusion I then get yelled at and told unless I know what to do with a barrow in a breeding class then I better judge it as a market class.
- How do you think livestock judging is preparing you for the future?
TYLER: Livestock Judging has impacted me greatly for my future. I think it is something that enhances your public speaking, your mind set, your organization skills, and truly your ability to be a professional.
CHESNEY: I plan to be a part of the cattle industry and the agriculture world for the rest of my life. Livestock judging has taught me not only about evaluating livestock, but also about speaking to others and making connections with people that can be a crucial part of your future. I can honestly say I wouldn?t be the person I am today without livestock judging.
CAGNEY: ?I see livestock judging as being very beneficial for my future. For starters, I plan to stay within the livestock industry for the rest of my life, there’s no doubt that through countless classes and scenarios livestock judging has given me a solid background to help me evaluate livestock in a real world setting in the future. More importantly livestock judging has provided me with speaking, decision making and time management skills that I will utilize for the rest of my life.
- What?s the next step for you in your judging career?
TYLER: I will be attending Hutchinson Community College next fall on a Livestock Judging scholarship. I am excited to continue my judging career, it truly has been a dream of mine to compete at this next level. I am excited to live in Hutchinson, KS as it is a great town with a lot of great people.
CHESNEY: While it?s been a fun ride and a great experience, it?s looking like this is the extent of my livestock judging career. I?ve enjoyed it a lot, but I?m only a freshman and I?m already ineligible to judge at the National FFA contest and the National 4-H contest. I might get back into it someday but for right now, I?m at a crossroads.
CAGNEY: While my past of livestock judging has been incredible I am extremely excited for my future. My goal has always been to ultimately livestock judge on the next level. After much thought, stress and consideration I finally made a decision. I’m happy to announce that next fall I will be attending Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. I’m ready to start this next chapter and cannot wait to see where it takes me.
- Is there anyone special you?d like to thank?
TYLER: I would like to thank my dad, Scott Bush. Without him I know I would not be as successful as I have been. He has taught me more about the general knowledge of livestock than I ever thought was possible. He has just really been a huge impact on my life and he’s truly one of my biggest supporters.
CHESNEY: This list could go on forever but there are a few that stand out. I?d like to thank my parents for getting me involved in livestock judging in the first place. Our Ag teacher Ken Jones for teaching me the true meaning of ?wanting it?. Our coach Daniel Weidenbach for teaching me so much in such a short amount of time. Lastly, my teammates and even more so my sister for helping me through this scary and amazing experience and for pushing me a little further to make me better.
CAGNEY: There are countless people who haven’t gotten nearly enough thanks for all they have done to help me accomplish so many of my goals. To my parents: I cannot thank you enough for encouraging me to pursue my goals. Livestock judging has always been a long-term thing for me and I’m thankful to have had you guys along the way to help me keep working towards my dream. To my FFA Advisor Ken Jones: Thank you for the countless insults, butt-chewings and ensuring that my head never got to big. Also, I can’t thank you enough for instilling in me the passion to be a winner in all that I do. To my coach Daniel Weidenbach: Thank you for the countless hours that you spent with me. Whether we were perfecting a set of reasons or going over data, I cannot thank you enough for pushing me to be my absolute best and never giving up on me. To Josh Cribbs and the SDSU Livestock Judging Team: Thank you so much for your endless advice and guidance. Your help along the way was crucial to my success. To Tyler, Colin, and Chesney: Thank you for sharing the same passion as me. Although we may not have all had the exact same goals along the way we accomplished something many other teams only dreamed of. I’m proud of what we did and proud to have you all as teammates.