The National Western Stock Show offers a once in a lifetime experience to the high individual of the collegiate livestock judging contest. Every year the high scoring livestock judge is awarded a trip to the Calgary Stampede to judge the Alberta 4-H purebred beef heifer show, the Summer Synergy commercial beef heifer show and help with some of the junior livestock judging contests. On Jan. 15, 2016, in Denver, Colo., Quest Newberry, a senior animal science major from George West, Texas, was named the 2016 NWSS collegiate livestock judging high individual overall and earned the right to participate in the Canadian Provincial Contest Exchange sponsored by the Alberta Canada All Breeds Association and the National Western Stock Show. Newberry spent July 12-17, 2016 in Alberta serving as an official.
Could you give us some background?
My background might be a little different than some livestock judgers. Although my family has always had a small commercial cattle operation, the sound of a coach’s whistle seemed to be more familiar to me growing up. My father was a high school football coach and I loved helping him on the practice field. I took pride in being the best water boy in South Texas and football players were who I looked up to. Then one Nov. night, a white truck backed up to my barn and a little Yorkshire gilt hopped out. Being only six years old, I didn’t know what to think of showing pigs. However, by the end of my first year, I was hooked and loved everything about it. Then, being the son of a football coach, I had to move to another school and wasn’t able to show. This was devastating to me, but I got more involved in sports and enjoyed that. After several years, I moved to George West where I stayed for the remainder of my time in school. There I began fifth grade and began showing again. As I grew up, I was part of 4-H, FFA and sports teams. I showed pigs and cattle at the county and state level. During this time FFA became a huge part of my life and I made the decision to become a State FFA Officer. When I graduated high school, I attended Blinn College where I was part of the livestock judging team. Now, I am currently a proud member of the Texas A&M University judging program.
How did you get involved in Livestock Judging?
When I walked into my first day of ag class in seventh grade, Mr. Jimerson, my ag teacher told me that I was going to be on the livestock judging team. I didn’t have a clue that this was going to be such an important part of the rest of my life. We practiced every day until Feb., then we went to our first contest. I remember that day vividly. There was a close top pair of Duroc gilts and I placed them off of their color, which ended up being wrong. That day I didn’t finish on top, however, with many more practices and Mr. Jimerson’s guidance, livestock judging became something that I truly loved.
What is most rewarding about your participation in livestock judging; what makes it all worthwhile?
What I find to be the most rewarding aspect about my participation in livestock judging is the ability to help youth. Growing up, I went to livestock judging camp at Texas A&M from my seventh grade summer until I was a senior. The collegiate judgers were people that I looked up to and learned many things from. Now, I feel that it is my turn to give back and help kids learn about livestock judging. I love putting on camps during the summer. Seeing kids improve in a three-day period and gain knowledge about livestock and self-confidence is what I really like about this program. I feel that if we are able to teach the youth about livestock judging, we not only give them top notch judgement and communication skills, but we also produce promoters of our industry who know and understand the importance of programs such as livestock judging.
What is your life plan? What do you plan to have accomplished in five, 10, 20, and 50 years — personally and/or professionally?
As I complete my bachelor’s degree, I plan to continue my education by obtaining a master’s in nutrition. I have an ultimate goal of one day establishing my own feed company. I know this will not be an easy task, but I am willing to do what it takes. However, before I start my feed company, I would like to be a judging coach. I know how much my coaches have helped me grow as a livestock judger and a person, which makes me want to do the same for others. In roughly 10 years, I would like to be working on a doctorate in swine nutrition. I believe this will help me better understand how to produce valuable feed products. Then, I hope to finally build my feed company and produce swine feed for commercial and show pig operations. I want to strive and push for advancements in feed technology. In 50 years, I want to be able to see Quest Feeds be a prominent feed producer. Personally, I also will hopefully have a show pig and cattle operation, where I can market my stock to 4-H and FFA members.
What are your thoughts on the experience?
I truly feel that this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. There are several different aspects of my time in Canada that make me extremely grateful for this opportunity. First, the hospitality that I was shown was great. Everyone was so nice and treated me so well. Next, I really enjoyed learning about agriculture in Canada. Although many things were similar to the states, there were some different practices. I also enjoyed explaining to Canadians what Brangus and Simbrah cattle were when they asked what kind of cattle I raised. It was also a great feeling to have the chance to evaluate the cattle. Growing up I have always heard about how the cattle in Canada were extremely high quality and they definitely were. However, the best part about my experience in Canada was working with the exhibitors. This was a truly eye opening experience and it illustrated to myself what “it” is all about. I was able to see young kids fit their own cattle, friends show cow calf pairs together, competitors cheer on each other and 4-H kids promote their industry to people that wanted to learn more about it. As I selected my Grand Champion purebred heifer, I made a statement on the microphone explaining my thoughts from that day. I believe the best way to summarize my thoughts from that day were that it was filled with good cattle and great kids. My experiences in the show ring and around the barns with exhibitors will be memories that I will cherish forever.
What did you view as the neatest part/parts of the Exchange program?
One of the coolest parts of the Exchange program for me, was the ability to meet and judge alongside multiple gentlemen who came up through livestock judging programs like me. I had the pleasure to judge showmanship with Kent McCune, and I judged the cattle shows alongside Jake Scott. They shared many stories about their judging programs and shared with me how important it was to them. I learned many things from them when I watched them judged and it really helped me. There is another part of the Exchange program that was extremely memorable. At the Stampede, during opening ceremonies, I had the pleasure to stand on the big stage besides Jake Scott and Kirk Stierwalt. It seemed like an NFL halftime show. Lights were flashing, bag pipes were playing and cameras were everywhere. I will never forget that moment. The Exchange program allowed me to travel to Canada and see the Calgary Stampede. I enjoyed seeing their largest livestock show and I plan to take a trip back there one day.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.