Luci Allen recently competed as part of the Tennessee team in the National 4-H livestock Skillathon team. Luci placed 11th nationally overall and was named “All American in skillathon” receiving belt buckle. Team members Cora Key and LeAnna tanner also received this award with both placing in top 10 individually and Cora being second overall. Tennessee was trying to repeat as National Champions, but came up 23 points short and placed 4th in the United States. The Skillathon contest is hosted each year in Louisville, Kentucky at the North American International Livestock Exposition. This is only the second time that a Macon County student has been on the Tennessee team that competed at the National contest, the other was Samantha Satterfield in 2009.
The team is selected throughout the year at the various state Livestock shows, those in 11th or 12th grades compete for a spot on the State team which is made up of 6 individuals. The livestock events such as the State Market Hog Show, State Beef Expo and State Sheep Expo, conduct a skillathon contest that tests the individuals knowledge in several areas such as Quality assurance, meat cuts identification, feed sample id, equipment i.d., breeds of animal i.d, among several other areas. Luci won both the State Swine and Sheep senior level skillathons in 2016 and was top 10 in the state beef skillathon.
The national contest, which was held on Monday, November 14th took approximately 6 grueling hours to complete, pushing the teams from across the United States, the furthest coming from Arizona, to complete test areas in a certain time limit. Members performed oral presentations, as well as calculations throughout the day. Luci stated “the contest is about like taking the ACT (college entrance exam) two times in a row.”
The team pictured above was made up of the following individuals (L to R) Kristen Brown,- White County, Cora Key- Clay County, Luci Allen, LeAnna Tanner- Wilson County. Also on the team but unavailable for photo is Haley Brazel-Sumner County, and Emily Ellison-Cocke County. Team was coached by (back row L to R) John Goddard- Loudon County Agent, and Alan Bruin- Sevier County Director.
The National skillathon competition involved several aspects of the livestock industry. Individuals identified equipment and told of its use in livestock, identified breeds and matched descriptions to each, and meat cuts from beef, sheep, hogs, telling what specie meat cut came from, the primal location (where cut came from on animal) and retail name. A written test concerning all facets of agriculture, quality assurance as well as current events going on in the world was also required. Hay and wool judging are also included in the individual competitions with scenarios on each which members must think through. The team competitions involved five stations with team members answering questions or explaining their decisions in front of judges, which is one of the many life skills that will benefit students throughout life. These stations included beef carcass data interpretations, judging retail cuts, keep/cull goat class, boar performance selection, nutrition and ration selection, as well as a quality assurance station where sheep were caught, identified, weighed, feet trimmed, dewormed, vaccinated, average daily gain calculated, etc.. by the team.
The Tennessee team was 1st in the identification part of the National contest, with all team members placing in top 5, fourth in team Quality Assurance, and seventh in Team Evaluation, with a score of 1293 total points.