Students from throughout the area recently honed their skills at exhibiting prize cattle during the Blount County Junior Cattle Show at Heritage High School.
Jon Waters, one of three agricultural teachers at Heritage High School along with Judy Pearson and Mark Dowlen, helped host the event. More than 100 attended the April 5 event.
Waters said the students’ enthusiasm is evident when they practice with their animals. “It’s unbelievable to see their excitement. They work day-in and day-out on their steers. The Heritage kids have been working steers Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday,” Waters said. “When they have success it’s unbelievable. We know the hard work they put in behind it.”
The Ag. 13 exhibitors showed about 30 animals, the teacher said. The Future Farmers of America members from Heritage High School along with 4-H members from any school competed. “It’s not just one select group. It was open to any 4-H person, grades 4 through 12,” he said. “It’s open to a lot of people - all Blount Countians.”
Heritage High students competed in several different divisions. Johnna Davis won in the Commercial Heifer Class; Lane Davis won in the Showmanship Class, Cooper Davis won in the Registered Heifer Class.
Waters said the registered heifer is a full-blooded animal that has papers and a pedigree; a commercial heifer is more or less one someone would find in a field - it’s not registered, and it doesn’t have to be full-blooded. In the steer class, the steers are cattle going to market.
The Ag teacher said in the Showmanship division, the exhibitors are judged on how they handle the animal and how they set the animal up. “One of the most important things is that they are aware of where the judge is at all times,” he said. “Showmanship is the student or exhibitor themselves being judged.”
Waters said that in the Steer or Heifer Class, the animal is being judged. “The steers are going to slaughter, and they’re looking for them to have plenty of meat,” he said. “Heifers, they want them wide and feminine.”
The students at Heritage High School also practiced for written skill-a-thons at the competitions. “They actually have to take a written test. They study on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons,” Waters said. “They study all the things they need to know for the written test.”
Waters said the judge for the countywide April 5, event was Matt Crisp, a University of Tennessee student from McMinn County. A total of 13 from the entire county participated, including six students from Heritage High School and two from Maryville High School. Since 4-H starts in fourth grade, students from grades 4 - 12 competed.