BOTKINS — It’s been a big year for the Botkins FFA. After their General Livestock Team and Equine Team both did very well in the state finals for judging in April, they each got an opportunity to compete in a national competition.
The Equine Team placed 2nd out of 123 teams at the state competition. Madeline Okuley placed 1st out 399 individuals, Madison Steinke placed 9th, Payton Amstutz placed 24th individual, and Kayla Kohler placed 34th individual.
In July they got to travel to Fort Worth Texas for The Paint and Appaloosa Youth World Show.
“The competition was a lot more difficult than ones in state,” Kohler said. “They have better quality horses than what we have at the small competitions, and there is more than one judge.”
At the national competition they placed 19 out of 23. The team agreed it was good for them because they had never even won state.
During competitions they compete individually then their scores are combined together. But to prepare for the competitions they practice together. They go to area barns and use horses. They also watch videos online and learn from flashcards.
“Our goal this year is to travel again. The top seven teams at state get to travel,” Okuley said. “First place gets to go to nationals in Indiana, but we want to go further.”
None of the team had traveled to Texas before, and did some site seeing while they were there.
“It just shows you what hard work can do,” Kohler.
The General Livestock Team placed 5th out of 169 teams at the state competition. Leading the team was Micah Smock who placed 2nd out of 899 individuals, next was Joshua Miller who placed 3rd, then Evan Aufderhaar placed 39th individual and Zane Egbert placed 42nd individual.
This coming weekend they will travel to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Keystone International Livestock Exposition where they will judge cattle, hog, sheep, and goats.
“The thing about us at state was we were outside of the top five,” Miller said. “We were sitting sixth going into the finals, but me and Micah placed so high, and the other guys proved their positions that it bumped us up to win a banner.”
The team talked about a legacy the Botkins FFA Chapter has with general livestock judging. This will be the third team going to Pennsylvania.
“It’s kinda cool to carry on that tradition. We’ve had the road paved for us,” Smock said.
They know they’ve had success locally, but want to make an impact on the national level.
“We want to represent Ohio the best we can,” Smock said. Miller said, “We’re the only four FFA members from Ohio going to the competition.”
The team practices around three times a week, and they have an Ohio State Judge who comes to help them. Like the horse team, they use local farms to practice, and really appreciate the farmers who take time out of their day to let them use their animals.
Both the teams appreciate their teacher Chad Berning who has helped them out the best he can.
“For horses, Mr. Berning doesn’t know much, but he’s done so much to help us get to where we are,” Okuley said.
Smock said he puts them in the best position to succeed. The students thought of a quote Berning always says to them, “Whatever you put in is what you get out.”
The horse judging team is currently practicing for small competitions again, working up to state next spring. When the general livestock judging team gets back from Pennsylvania they will start all over again too.
“High school would be so boring without FFA,” Kohler said.
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