The road to winning the national championship title for the 2012 Hale County meat judging team was a long one. The three team members, Logan Munstian, Zachary Grimsley, and Emily Evans put in a long year of hard work together as a team. Hale County Extension Agent Todd Beyers said the trio had to earn their trip to the National Western contest by winning and qualifying for the next level.
"They started off at our district contest, which would have been last fall. They would have qualified there, they won the district contest and then went on to our state 4-H contest which was held at state 4-H roundup which was right here in Lubbock last year at Texas Tech. They placed second as a team at that contest which qualified them for the opportunity to be able to go to the National Western contest in Denver, Colorado," Beyers said.
All three team members have been judging meats for several years now and they each said that their involvement in 4-H has helped them grow and improve their communication skills.
"Honestly, my favorite part about meats is some of the trips we go on and the long hours we spend here at Tech working," Munstian said. "Just being here and getting to make those connections and just having fun and being tired at the same time with Emily and Zack, and the other kids that we have, it's just a lot of fun."
"I got interested in the FFA and 4-H program and have taken off," Grimsley said. "I have raised cattle, and judged on several different contests. Through 4-H, it's just the willingness to work, wanting to do something no matter how tired you are."
"My eighth grade ag teacher asked me because they needed a third person for their team and he said Emily would you like to do this, and I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I went for it," Evans said. "At first it was rough and I just did it because I had already made a commitment, and then after about a year I started to really enjoy it and now I absolutely love it."
Grimsley is now a freshman at Texas Tech and said that he plans to judge meats at the college level, too. Both Grimsley and Munstian said that they enjoy sharing their knowledge and advantage as consumers to other people as well.
"You may not want to get up in the morning, but you have to get up, keep going, and what you're learning now is not just affecting what you're doing right now, it affects you for the rest of your life. Within this contest, you can be a wise consumer and go out and buy a better product and inform other people," Grimsley said.
"I feel like I'm a little more informed than most of the others about some of the meat issues going on. 4-H has helped me with that a lot where I can go in and a lot of the rumors said about pink slime or meat glue, I can settle their mind at ease, or I know that it's not anything major that is going to hurt me," Munstian said.
Evans said that critical thinking and making decisions under pressure are two vital skills that she has gained through meat judging. And although there is no doubt she is a confident speaker now, Evans assured me that wasn't always the case.
"I was the shy kid, and we have to talk reasons, and that was a huge obstacle for me to get up and talk in front of people," Evans said. "But I learned eventually that people are just people and that we all make mistakes and that it's okay to be able to walk into a room and maybe not say everything perfectly, but eventually I learned that I was actually decent at it and I got better and better, and now I enjoy it."
Congratulations again to the Hale County 4-H meat judging team for winning the National Western championship contest. In addition to finishing as the high point team, Grimsley finished first place, Evans earned fourth, and Munstian brought home fifth place individual wins from the contest.