Local students put Montana on the map

After recent national success, the Big Timber FFA and 4-H programs have left their marks, at the top of the leader boards, across the country.

On Oct. 25 and 26, the FFA team headed over to Indianapolis, where it finished fifth overall. The top-five performance was the best a Montana school has ever placed at the national meet. 

Fast forward not a month later, and on Nov. 14, a team from the 4-H organization took eighth, donning Jess Moody as the national champion runner-up at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest in Louisville, Ky.

Marc King, who works with the students for both 4-H and FFA, said there shouldn’t be that much surprise to the success Big Timber students are having, even at the national level. 

The first is because of the tradition. Big Timber has 19 state titles when it comes to livestock judging — the most of any Montana school.

The second is because of the community support, when it comes to working out.

“We’ve got tremendous support and ranch families here who let us work out on their livestock all the time,” King said. “A lot of places within Montana would have the same advantages, but they don’t capitalize on them.

“There’s agriculture all over the state of Montana. But there’s a drive from the kids, and there’s a huge support group. I’ll get calls from ranchers who say, ‘Hey, I just brought in all the heifer calves. If you want to judge them, they’ll be here for two weeks.’”

King expressed it’s this kind of support that allows the kids in these groups to thrive. Ranchers from around Sweet Grass County don’t have any direct benefit from allowing students to judge their livestock. And they certainly don’t have to go out of their way to open up their ranches to them. 

But King said that’s the difference between Big Timber and everywhere else — they do open their arms to these students, and should know the educational benefits are bolstered with accolades. 

At the FFA convention in Indianapolis, Big Timber received the Gold Emblem recognition for being one of the top 15 teams. 

Gunner Hathaway, Dylan Laverell and Moody were also awarded Gold Emblems, while Bailey Veteto was awarded the Silver Emblem, individually.

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net.

PHOTO CAPTION:  From left: Cody Stene, Dylan Laverell, Shayden King, Marc King and Jess Moody pose for a picture in Louisville, Ky., after the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest. Moody was the individual national champion runner-up by one point. (Contributed photo)




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