Training for nationals
By ROBYN KRUGER
PAULLINA – Busy FFA students and 4-H members from O’Brien County spent their summer studying meat evaluation for the State FFA Meats Judging Contest which was held on the campus of Iowa State University on Aug. 25, sweeping the competition and qualifying for judging at the National FFA Convention on Oct. 23.
Team members met several times for two-hour training sessions during the summer, learning cuts of beef, pork and lamb through the use of pictures on flash cards and slide shows.
Nineteen teams participated in the contest event for a total of 71 students from across Iowa. Teams are scored points individually with the top three scores for each team member combined into the team’s final score.
Teams were tested on the following categories, placing of carcass classes in beef, pork, and lamb; placing classes of wholesale and retail meat cuts; quality and yield-grading beef carcasses and identifying retail meat cuts. There was also a problem-solving component to the test.
“Yield-grading was the most complicated part of the test for most of us,” said Eric Koehlmoos, a sophomore. “It involves estimating the sizes of a cut; in our case, it was a ribeye, using a special mathematic formula.”
Team member Libby Wagener said, “We really had a lot of fun working together through all of this. We have all become very close and look forward to making the trip and competing together at nationals.”
The state champion meat judging team has earned a free trip to the National FFA Convention.
Competition at the national level is very stiff, said FFA advisor Eric Kumm.
“The team will need to know more about how certain cuts are prepared,”?Kumm said, “and cooked and also be able to identify the muscles of the animal and which muscle each cut is taken from – both things they did not have to test on at the state level.”
The testing at national level will be approximately six hours long, Kumm said. The state test lasted about 3.5 hours.
“Our goal for nationals,” said Kumm, “is to place in the top 10. We have a bit of pressure to do well being from Iowa and being an agricultural state.
“We are really honored to just be attending. It’s a very neat experience for these kids.”