MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 16, 2013

Area students bring talents to FFA livestock competition

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Mylie Leatherman, a senior at Muskogee High School, said getting livestock ready for a show is a familiar routine for her.

“We get up and wash them, then blow-dry them,” Leatherman said. “It’s almost just like washing your own hair, but on a cow.”

Leatherman was one of several Muskogee area 4-H and FFA members who brought their talents and their livestock to the MHS livestock facility on Saturday morning.

The students competed in a junior and senior division, and also were judged for animal quality and showmanship in each division.

There was even entertainment outside the ring, as a goat briefly got loose and led its owners on a short chase through the livestock facility parking lot.  

Wyatt O’Neil, a Hilldale sophomore, said working with his heifer “Shorty” was a lot of fun.

“I love getting out there and working with them,” he said. “Each one is different. It also teaches you patience and responsibility.”

O’Neil took home Supreme Champion Heifer and Senior Show Championship honors in this year’s competition. He said Shorty hasn’t always been so cooperative in the ring.

“She used to kick, but I kept working with her,” O’Neil said. “I used the show stick to calm her down, and I just let her kick until she didn’t want to anymore. You have to stay persistent.”

Several of the youth battled stubborn cows and goats at the show, but all responded with firm grips, gentle scratches with show sticks, and every now and then, a solid thump on the backside. As they prodded each animal into position, Tyler Dewey, the livestock judging coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, gave each of them a look over, then announced the winner in the category.

Cody Pearce, the agriculture teacher at MHS, said he felt like the show went very well.

“Our numbers weren’t huge, but we ran real deep with quality,” Pearce said. “We had some good animals and some great kids. Most of the animals were bought no less than eight months ago, and these kids have been working them nonstop for the shows. We definitely appreciate the support of the individuals, and also our sponsors for the event.”

MHS was able to raise around $5,000 for livestock shows this spring, and with the help of sponsors they were able to recoup $2,000 in costs for Saturday’s show.

Leatherman said the desire to start showing was a “family thing.”

“My sister started when she was 9 and I was 9,” she said. “My dad and my aunt both showed as well. The lessons I learn from it are invaluable, and I’ve made friends all over the country as well. But there’s no better feeling than winning Grand Champion.”

O’Neil, who is hoping to attend Connors State College, had a message for those thinking about taking part, but were unsure of the benefits.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “Kids should try it. It gives you something to do and keeps you out of trouble, and it looks really good on your college transcript.”



Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat

@muskogeephoenix.com.

Awards

Grand Steer: Mylie Leatherman (MHS)

Supreme Champion Heifer: Ty O’Neil (Hilldale)

Reserve Supreme Heifer: Bailey Sexton (Hilldale)

• • •

Grand Champion Market Goat: Michael Howard (MHS)

Reserve Grand Market Goat: Bethany Sanders (MHS)

• • •

Supreme Champion Doe: Michael Howard (MHS)

Reserve Supreme Champion Doe: Michael Howard (MHS)

• • •

Senior Champion Showman: Wyatt O’Neil (Hilldale)

Junior Champion Showman: Ashley McDaniel (MHS)