URBANA –Nearly 40 youth swine producers ages 8 to 12 discovered the importance of their role in producing a safe, quality meat product at the 2010 National Junior Swine Association Boot Camp at the University of Illinois on Saturday.
“The U of I was honored to partner with the NJSA to provide an opportunity for our future agriculture industry leaders to gather together and learn more about the swine industry,” said Dan Shike, U of I assistant professor in animal sciences.
Shike, coach of the U of I livestock judging team, led participants on a practice livestock judging workout where he discussed current selection trends and basic instruction for judging swine.
Eight-year-old Allison Wheeler of Jacksonville, Ill., said she learned a lot from the judging workout. “I placed my practice class right and understand judging much better now,” she said.
Participants listened to industry leaders and U of I professors discuss topics ranging from animal behavior to selecting showpigs.
Ashley DeDecker, a U of I graduate student in animal sciences, discussed swine behavior and what makes pigs behave the way they do. She illustrated her point by demonstrating the “natural pecking order” utilizing members of the audience.
Jenna Wheeler, a 10-year-old participant from Jacksonville, Ill., said, “I didn’t realize the role of the ‘bully’ pig before and how his fighting with the smaller pigs allows everyone to catch up and eat more while the ‘bully’ is fighting.”
U of I graduate student Brandon Yantis educated youth on how to select showpigs and what to look for when purchasing their next pig project.
The Wheeler girls said they put their new education into action at a pig sale on Sunday looking for project pigs that were “wide from the ground up.”
In addition, participants were educated on preparing for skillathon competitions by NJSA Director Bailey Albright of Coldwater, Mich., and showmanship techniques by NJSA President Lynsee Shaffer of Albany, Ind.
Past National FFA President Beau Williamson of Clovis, Calif., discussed networking and the importance of building relationships in an exciting and fun-filled leadership seminar.
In addition, Tom Carr, U of I professor of animal sciences and meats judging team coach, led youth on a tour of the Meat Science Laboratory and educated youth on pork industry challenges. Participants evaluated classes of meat cuts and discussed what to look for when selecting a retail cut of pork.
This event was held in the U of I Stock Pavilion and Animal Sciences Laboratory and was hosted by the U of I for the second year in a row. Sponsors include U of I, NJSA and the National Pork Board.
Media Communications Specialist
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801