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Judging time, schoolwork and meat carcasses

High demand meets high reward for students


Published: Friday, November 2, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 14:11

     When a steak is delivered to a table at local steak houses, most people just eat their meal without a second thought as to the behind-the-scenes aspects of that steak.

     The members of the ASU meat judging team do just the opposite.

     The team is full of students who take an in-depth look and analyze the carcasses of animals.

     While that skill can be helpful when picking out cuts of meat from the local grocery store, the team’s experience goes far beyond the meat locker.

     “One of the main reasons why we try to promote these judging teams is that they learn outside of the actual judging concepts,” said Dr.  Kirk Braden, assistant professor of Agriculture. “Those would be things that are basically for career preparation: time management, problem solving skills and decision making skills, making industry connections and how to communicate; all of those basic functions that you have to have in a productive career.”

     Junior Kylee Weerland is a testament to the character-building the meat judging team presents.  

     She said she holds a 4.0 GPA and is involved in nearly five different on-campus organizations.

     “Being on the team has reinforced how much being successful means to me,” Weerland said. “It has given me the extra push to work harder when it comes to time management and focusing on my classes.”

     Members of this team have traveled all over the state and the country to participate in contests.

     All of this traveling puts pressure on team members to keep their lives in order so they can be successful as students and meat judges.

     “I have really learned to balance everything, and it teaches you real quick to grow up,” junior Darren Seidel said. “You have got to take on these responsibilities head-on; you have got to be able to balance what you are going to do as far as priorities.”

     The team has traveled all around the country but have been mostly focused in the Midwest, in states such as Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa, Seidel said.

     This is only the sixth team ASU has ever fielded in meat judging competitions, Braden said.

     “Meat judging predates World War II,” Braden said. “ASU is the newest entrant in the senior college division.”

     At competitions, the team judges beef carcasses, pork carcasses and lamb carcasses.

     A perfect score for an entire team at any competition is 4,600 points.

     ASU scored a total of 3,960 points in their last meet. The only other teams to score higher were Texas Tech (4,074 points) Oklahoma State (4,019 points) and Kansas State University (4,003) points.

     The senior college division is made up of primarily division one schools, such as Texas A&M and Texas Tech, Braden said.

     “The opportunities to compete against bigger schools make you push yourself and make you want to represent Angelo State to where D1 schools open their eyes,” Seidel said.

     Weerland said one competition in particular was her personal favorite moment with the team.

     “One of my personal high points with the team was winning the Southeastern Contest, Weerland said. “It was an awesome feeling to know that all of our hard work paid off and the time was well spent practicing.”

     The ASU Meat Judging Team will compete next in the High Plains competition on Nov. 4.

     While the team is housed primarily within the Agriculture Department, Braden said he wants his team to highly represent not only his department, but the entire university.

     “Our slogan is ‘building a culture of distinction,’” Braden said. “And that is really what we want to do. We want to build a culture of distinction for the program and the university.”


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