Hardeman County 4-H Junior High Team Takes Home First Prize in Meat Judging Competition

Pictured (l to r): David Gibson, Jerrod Goodrum, Hannah Gibson, and Bella Watkins.

Hardeman County 4-H Junior High team members competed in the UT Extension Western Region 4-H Meats Judging Contest that was held on Thursday, February 15, 2024, in Jackson, Tennessee at the West TN Research and Education Center. They competed against five other teams in their division and came home first place winners.

The Junior High team included homeschool students David Gibson, Jerrod Goodrum, Hannah Gibson, and Bella Watkins. Judging meat is more than just making sure it looks right and each had to prepare for the competition to be knowledgeable as what to look for in determining good meat.

“The teams met for practices at the 4-H office after school leading up to the contest. They had to learn approximately 100 retail cuts from beef, lamb, and pork,” said Hardeman County 4-H Agent Gary Rodgers who coached the team and shared more about the day of competition. “They had to identify 30 retail cuts, judge two classes of retail cuts, and answer questions about each class at the regional contest.”

Although the Junior High teams do not advance past the regional competition as do the high school teams to the state level, the regional competition gave them a sweet taste of competition and what it feels like to be winners. Rodgers also shared why he thinks participating in the 4-H competition is important for students.

“Competition in judging teams teaches youth to make decisions that they can utilize in daily activities. This contest will help youth select quality cuts of meat as they become adults making choices for their families,” said Rogers. “Other contests, like consumer decision making, help students make wise choices when shopping for particular items.”

He continued to share how he believes 4-H members benefit from competition opportunities the organization provides for its members.

“The spirit of competition and camaraderie of practice and events helps students get out of their shells and interact with other 4-H members,” said Rodgers who added about more benefits for high school students. “High school students also are asked to defend their placings with oral reasons at some competitions.”

4-H meets in several counties throughout West Tennessee (and the State). Learn more.

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