Guest Blogger: Barrett Carlisle

Today on the blog we’re happy to welcome a strong, young influence in the livestock industry – Barrett Carlisle. This Texas native had many successes in the show ring with his club lambs. Now, after a successful livestock judging career at Butler Community College and Kansas State University, Barrett is sharing his talents with students at Hutchinson Community College (HCC) in Hutchinson, Kan.

1. Share a little bit about your background in the livestock industry.

I grew up in Ropesville, Texas, a small community outside of Lubbock. Several of my classmates were like me and wanted to be a part of agriculture. I was very involved in 4-H and FFA, and participated in events that ranged from livestock judging to public speaking. I feel very fortunate to come from a family with a rich history in showing livestock.

When I was in second grade, I got my first pair of wethers to show at the county fair. After that fist year, I was hooked. So, without a doubt the thing that shaped my childhood the most was showing club lambs every weekend from the first of July through December and then going to the “Majors” in the Spring time. Along the way, I built many great friendships, relationships and skills, but in the big picture it really fueled my passion for animal agriculture. My family and I have a small flock of ewes for club lamb production and we have been fortunate to have had some show ring success. One big highlight came in 2005 at the Houston Livestock Show where we raised the Grand Champion Market Lamb.

Barrett’s junior college team at Bulter after winning NAILE.

Attending Butler Community College helped to lay the foundation for where I am today. The chance to be a part of a very prestigious program and to judge under Chris Mullinix was a great opportunity. My team won NAILE and Fort Worth, which was great and I love winning, but the friends and industry connections I made at Butler are something that I would not trade for anything.
After two very memorable years at Butler, I went on to attend and graduate from Kansas State University with a degree in Animal Science. Choosing where to attend Sr. College is tough decision. Still, going to KSU and being surrounded by people that absolutely love, and have shaped this industry, is something I am very proud of and I will always bleed purple.

2. How did you find your way to Hutchinson Community College?

This is a funny question and the answer could be very long but in the big picture, I am very blessed to have landed at Hutch and it is just proof that everything happens for a reason. I graduated last May from K-State and until about a week from graduation I was planning on staying to pursue a Master’s degree while managing the Sheep and Meat Goat Unit. This plan was de-railed and for a short time, I had no idea where I might end up. A few weeks later I was informed that the position at Hutchinson Community College was open. I spoke with Ben Williams, the head coach and fellow Butler and K-State alumni, several times and we both felt like it would be a great fit. It was an awesome feeling knowing that the administration and my now co-workers at Hutch were as excited about the opportunity as I was, and I accepted the job at the end of July.

3. What does your job as Assistant Livestock Judging Coach and Cowherd Manager entail?

Honestly, my job makes me feel like an old judging student traveling the country in a fifteen passenger van. Except this time, I collect the judging cards and get to dole out frustrated faces when a student misses the big picture. I absolutely love traveling the country, getting to look at all kinds of livestock, and helping to train students, not just to win contests, but how to evaluate livestock and formulate logical decisions. Anybody that has participated on a judging team knows the amount of time and commitment that it requires, and I am very blessed to have a girlfriend and support system that understands this very well. The judging team is the aspect of my job that requires the most hours, but I also teach a few classes at Hutch and manage the small cowherd of 30 registered Angus cows. I manage and coordinate student workers and in the past few months we have been getting a few heifer calves ready for sales. The part of my job that has been the most eye opening to say the least, is the teaching portion. Lets just say, the educational experience is quite a bit different on this side of the podium. I am very passionate about making teaching a very rewarding experience, especially when students have a strong work ethic and a desire to learn about a subject.
4. What’s the best part of your job?
Without a doubt it is the judging students. The young group that have assembled from all over the country and even Canada, is a group that is awfully bright, driven, and very competitive. Being someone these students look up to for advice is very rewarding. I know when I was on judging teams, I looked up to my coaches, Chris Mullinix and Scott Schaake, quite a bit and those two educators have helped to pave the way to where I am now. Now that I am working in education, I hope I can do the same thing for the students at HCC.

It is a pleasure jumping into the van every weekend with students who share the same passion for animal agriculture and livestock judging. It excites me to have the chance to help teach them and expand their knowledge on something so valuable. The students are not only young people in agriculture who can always rely on me for assistance, but more importantly, they have become good friends.

Because this is my “first big kid job,” I have really appreciated the positive atmosphere and culture I have experienced while coaching at HCC. Ben Williams is the head coach, and getting to work along side him has been very educational and enjoyable. Our personalities mesh extremely well and he is a very large part of why I am at HCC and why I enjoy it so much.

The Carlisle family.

5. From your experience, what’s the best advice someone’s ever given you?

Growing up, my parents always said “just take care of YOUR business.” I believe that no matter what you do, want to do, or how you do it, this is something that everybody should follow. If we can focus 110% of our efforts on taking care of our own business, then success and “luck” will follow. Getting wrapped up in what anyone else does or how they do it, limits your own potential. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything necessary to prepare for success while still worrying about what peers or competitors are doing also. Always do what needs to be done to prepare to the best of your ability, and then see how it stacks up on game day.

6. Part of your job is working with students, how do you work to be a good role model?

A large part of this goes back to the previous question. If I just take care of my business and do my job, then I know I will handle myself in a way that I would want my students to handle themselves. I try to lead by example. There are moments throughout the day, everyday, that I find my self asking: “What would my parents do?” “What would Schaake say?” “When this happened on our team, what did my coaches do?” My role models from the past often influence the choices and decisions I make on a daily basis. Again, the people who have helped me along the way are one of many things for which I am thankful.

7. Now that you’re a coach, how is that different from being a livestock judger?

For me, coaching is far less stressful. I wish lining up a class of four was as easy as it is now when I was competing in contests. Actually, it probably was, but it just shows the kind of pressure you place on yourself when you are in the position of a judging contestant. I always stress that to the kids on the team. Ninety-five percent of contests are set up not to be hard, but to have an educational logic to them. That is something that I did not fully realize until I started coaching. One part of coaching that is often underrated, is managing personalities and confidence. The human element to a team dynamic is instrumental to the success a group can have.

8. Does your team have any special “rituals” before a contest?

Our crew is not very superstitious and does not have any rituals before contests. The sophomore team has a pretty laid back personality and the mood is typically pretty light. Most of the time spent before a contest is spent making sure all five of them get the right contestant number on all their cards!

9. Who inspires you to do your job well?

My parents have always supported me 100% no matter what I wanted to do and without them I would not have had half the opportunities that I have had. Because of them, I am able to be where I am. Everyday, I hope to do a job that they would be proud of. That is just a small way to pay a little something back to them for all their sacrifices. I also mentioned that I was fortunate to have attended both Butler Community College and K-State. While on the teams there, I was able to learn from Chris Mullinix and Scott Schaake, the two greatest livestock minds I know. The knowledge I pass on to my students came in large part from them. I hope to do Chris and Schaake justice and to do a job that they would both be proud of.

Barrett’s team at Kansas State University.

Barrett went onto add, “Thank you for letting me be a part of this blog. Focus has become a great brand in the livestock industry and being able to be a part of this is a great honor.”

Thank you Barrett for the kind words. We hope to continue to watch you and your teams grow and succeed in the judging arena, as well as help you with your continued success along the way!