Bison Judging Draws Youthful Competitors at National Western

Bison Judging Draws Youthful Competitors at National Western

Junior bison judging interest surprises organizers of National Western Stock Show; Colorado girl wins top honors.

Sarah Marvin of Brighton, Colo., earned the top honors in the fourth annual National Bison Association Junior Judging Contest, in which drew a record number of 8 to 19-year-old participants ready to test their skills judging live bison.

A total of 75 young people signed up for the contest at the National Western Stock Show in Denver this month, a number that took show organizers somewhat by surprise.

Marvin earned a $1,000 scholarship with an overall score of 238 in the judging competition. She was also a member of the top placing team from Weld Central FFA, Hudson, Colo. Her other teammates are Mikayla Dineen, Taylor Horton, and Jess Nighswonger.

Lance Gilbert, New Raymer, Colo., was second individual, and Taylor Horton, Brighton Colo., placed third. The second place team was the Limon FFA, Limon, Colo., and included Abbey Linnebur, Shelly Chambers, and Dalton Chambers. The third-place team was from Lamar FFA, Lamar, Colo., and consisted of Cierra Medina, Swayzee Bellomy, and Amber Comer. This is the fourth year for a team from Lamar FFA has competed in the contest and the third year to place in the top three.

The contest was held at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), Denver, Colo., in conjunction with the NBA's 2012 Gold Trophy Show & Sale. Contestants judged four classes, yearling bulls, heifer calves, two-year-old bulls, and bull calves, and gave reasons on one class. Each class and the reasons rating had a total possible point value of 50.

"We were overwhelmed with the interest in the Jr. Judging Contest this year. The judging ability and quality of reasons continues to grow as this national contest grows. The growing interest also is a reflection of the increased attention by producers, especially young producers, in raising bison as a career," said Dave Carter, NBA executive director, who notes that the association's membership grew by more than 100 in 2011.  

The NBA's Junior Judging program is based on criteria used in 4-H and FFA livestock judging contests. The bison judging program was started by NBA member and Stratford, Okla., veterinarian Dr. Gerald Parsons, who proposed taking the contest to the national level after success with bison judging contests within the state of Oklahoma. He is the administrator of the NBA's National Jr. Judging Contest.

"We are thrilled with the level of interest and the quality of junior judges in this contest," Parsons said. "The bison industry wants to attract young people to the business, and this judging contest is one way to encourage young people to learn about bison."

The NBA offers a Junior Membership, which provides its junior members with the same benefits as it producer members but for a discounted amount of $50 annually. Learn more at

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