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BOZEMAN — Judgment Day keeps coming for the award-winning Montana State University Livestock Judging Team.

This spring, the team of students competed in four national contests and helped organize and run 11 contests for Montana's 4-H and FFA members, said Marc King of Big Timber, coach and Sweet Grass County Extension agent. The team will host the fourth annual Montana State University/Northwest College Judging Camp Friday and Saturday in Big Timber. Team members will judge about 10 jackpot shows and county fairs in Montana this summer.

"Livestock judging is more complex than just looking at livestock," King said. "What we really do is use livestock as a vehicle to educate the students in many important life skills, such as oral communication, decision making and time management.

"We use the students' understanding and love of livestock to teach them how to use these other important life skills that will play a huge role in their life, even if they never look at livestock again after they leave college," King said.

Annie Allen, a member of the 2003 Livestock Judging Team, credits the experience with helping her obtain her position as media specialist for the American Simmental Association in Bozeman.

"It's really an incredible program," Allen said. "Most people think it entails evaluating livestock, but it gives you so much more than that."

Competing on the MSU Livestock Judging Team developed her communication skills and ability to think on her feet, Allen said. It helped her make quick decisions, speak to the public and gave her the ability to defend her rulings.

Scott Perkins, an MSU student from Deer Lodge and member of the 2004 Livestock Judging Team, said the experience allowed him to meet new people, visit new places and gave him practical experience that he still uses when working at the sale barn near Three Forks.

Members of the 2005/06 traveling Livestock Judging Team were Heidi Arlian of Big Timber, Lacey Hunter of Stevensville, Collin Gibbs of Jordan, Tara Beley of Big Timber and Jason Stensburg of Big Timber. In the latest national contest, held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, the team won second place overall, first place in sheep judging, second place in swine judging and beef judging, and third in reasons. Individual competitors won numerous awards in beef, sheep, swine and overall judging.

The Livestock Judging Team is supported primarily by MSU's Steer-A-Year program.

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