By Jesse Warntjes and Lynn Gladman
For team members Claire Gladman, Sammie Beck, Cali Drake, and Jessica Juvinall, training really started in the fourth grade as each one joined 4-H and began showing and evaluating livestock in county contests. Team members won the state’s Intermediate Competition in 2011, but since only Advanced competitors move on to Nationals, the team worked together another year before capturing the Senior Division in July and earning the right to represent Oregon at the 88th Annual 4-H National Livestock Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky, in mid-November.
With the state win came the opportunity to compete against 36 teams from across the nation in a grueling eight-hour contest, evaluating four species of livestock – cattle, sheep, swine, and goats. The competition included eleven classes of livestock, two classes of questions, and four sets of memorized oral reasons defending class placings.
This Jackson County team, coached by 4-H leaders Jesse Warntjes and Lynn Gladman, credits massive community support as key not only to their success but also to providing the funds needed to travel to Kentucky. Cali Drake spoke for the entire team when she stated, “Our Southern Oregon community’s generosity gave us this opportunity, and we didn’t want to disappoint them.” Nor did they, as the four high school students from Central Point, Oregon, went on to take sixth place nationally against such powerhouses as Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Additionally, the team placed seventh in both oral reasons and sheep, eighth in cattle, and team members Sammie Beck and Claire Gladman were named 4-H All Americans, receiving silver belt buckles for their top twenty individual placings.
The memories may fade as the team moves on to new challenges, but the skills gained in public speaking, decisiveness, poise, and general knowledge of the livestock industry will last a lifetime.