Youth gain industry experience in the Michigan 4-H/FFA Meat Judging Contest

EAST LANSING, MI -- As the high heat and humidity in Michigan sets in, 42 youth stayed cool. In the third of three judging competitions in eight days, contestants in the 2016 Michigan 4-H/FFA Meat Judging Contest put on layers to evaluate carcasses and meat cuts in the coolers at the Michigan State University Meat Laboratory. The contest, put on by MSU Extension, was Friday, July 22, with 35 youth competing in the two 4-H divisions and 11 youth competing in the FFA divisions. Four youth took on the challenge of competing in both divisions.

Throughout the contest, youth applied knowledge learned at local practices. Youth from eight counties participated in the contest where they were able to better understand the value of meat. Specifically, youth can transfer the skills gained in the retail identification section to purchases at local grocery stores. Additionally, youth were able to see the final consumable product they may have learned about through other animal-related activities.

For the contest, contestants judged seven classes including Beef RibsPorterhouse SteaksPork HamsPork ChopsLamb CarcassesBeef Carcasses and Pork Carcasses. Contestants also identified 20 retail cuts, analyzed three beef carcasses for yield grade and quality grade and answered a set of questions on the pork hams class. Additionally, 4-H members gave one set of oral reasons to defend their placing and FFA members completed a written exam.

Participants had the opportunity to score up to 640 points during the morning event. Once all participants had completed the contest, coaches and volunteers took the contestants back into the coolers to help reinforce understandings and preferences of consumers as well as industry standards. Contestants illustrated their ability to evaluate carcasses and identify meats through individual and team competition, as well as developed important life skills in communication and decision-making.

Contestants competed in four divisions including Junior 4-H, Senior 4-H, Junior High FFA and High School FFA. Winning the Senior 4-H Team division was the team from Ottawa County 4-H, consisting of Emily Cook, Cassy Hassevoort, Jessica Timmer and Jolyn Timmer. Timmer was also named the high individual in the Senior 4-H division.

Kent County youth ranked the highest in the Junior 4-H division, with a team consisting of Elliott Kelly, Anna Richmond, Gage Snarski and Mitchell Snarski. Snarski was the high overall individual in the Junior 4-H division.

Winning the Senior FFA Team division was the team from Sanilac FFA, consisting of William Guigar, Lauren Heberling, Lindsey Sharrard and Steven Wilkinson. Sharrard was named the high individual in the division. Elliott Kelly received the highest award in the Junior High FFA division.

High placing teams and individuals received awards sponsored by the Michigan Meat Association. Congratulations to all of the contestants on their very unique learning experience. For more information about the contest, visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Evaluation page or contact me at or 517-432-1626.