WEST MILFORD, W.Va. (WBOY) — Two South Harrison High School (SHHS) students traveled to Madison, Wisconsin on Oct. 2 for the 100th Annual National Dairy Cattle 4-H Judging Competition at the World Dairy Expo.

Future Farmers of America (FFA) members, James Radcliff and Spencer Nolan represented the state of West Virginia by judging 10 classes consisting of four cattle each and gave oral reasonings to support their judgments to a panel of industry judges.

In a press release sent by SHHS’s Agriculture Education Department, it said that the team placed 20th in the nation while competing against students from multiple countries. Junior Spencer Nolan, SHHS FFA secretary, has been involved in the club for six years. He explained how the rankings were decided by saying, “it was based on how well we placed the dairy cattle and how well we gave reasons on certain classes.”

The students evaluated the cattle on a number of factors, one being which would be the most productive cattle. They placed the cattle and then had to give two sets of oral reasons where they defended their placings.

The World Dairy Expo is best known for dairy cattle shows in the world. This expo is made possible by a number of breeders, barn crews, owners, and volunteers. In 2021, there were a total of 2,306 heads of cattle that were housed by 1,566 owners representing 32 states, five Canadian Provinces, Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Senior James Radcliff, SHHS FFA president, felt that being able to represent West Virginia at the World Dairy Expo was an honorable thing to do. Although he mentioned that he could’ve done better, Radcliff feels that he did his best in getting up in front of everyone at the expo and explaining his reasons. Something that he will always remember from the contest was all the friends that he made from other countries.

After being involved in the club for three years and attending the world dairy expo last year, one thing that he took away from this competition was public speaking. He was not only able to discuss the dairy cattle with the friends he made but the judges as well. Radcliff said that it is something that pushed him outside of his comfort zone but he enjoyed it, and it will ultimately help him in the long run.

While discussing the importance of kids staying involved and getting experience from competitions like this, James Radcliff told 12 News that he feels kids and even adults are starting to stray further and further from simple jobs like farming. He added that by joining your local FFA chapter, you can learn more about farming and similar things, even if you do not plan to have a career in it. “I feel like this is just a great challenge for kids to get up there and challenge themselves against kids that you may not ever get to see again, or maybe you will see them again, and even work with them one day,” Radcliff said.

Advisor, Kyle Kidwell, also spoke on the importance of students getting involved with FFA and competitions like the dairy cattle judging. He said, “I think it’s really important for students to be able to just go and see things they normally wouldn’t see, kind of get out of their comfort zone a little bit by being put on the spot and learning some public speaking skills. Truly just to help the next generation of agriculturists develop their skills.”

Neither student could pick what their favorite part about the competition was. They both mentioned that the overall experience was beyond fun and enlightening. It also gave them a chance to notice and judge the different types of dairy cattle.