NHS students place well at the Nile

Preslee Fitzwater, FFA Correspondent

Photo courtesy of Jill Pischke

The Horse Judging Team, from left, are Avery Doyle, Kaitlyn Blumenthal, Brook Martell, Bailey Griffin, Canyon Farnsworth, Brooklyn Benshoof, and Callie Christensen.


The Newcastle High School FFA chapter took a road trip to Montana in October, as members from every grade level went to judge livestock and horses. For many of the members, it was one of their first judging trips, but that did not stop any member from reaching high — and winning even higher! The livestock team competed with a senior team consisting of Tell Tavegie, JJ Lipp, Reagan Redding and Jayde Harrington and a junior team consisting of Preslee Fitzwater, Aidan Butler and Tyler Stith. 

The senior team placed as follows: Tavegie, 49th individually; Redding, 120th; Harrington, 70th; and in a fantastic win for NHS, Lipp placed fifth overall out of 283 contestants. 

The junior team’s individual placings were as follows: Fitzwater, 54th; Butler, 142nd; and Stith, 128th, out of 214 contestants.  

This group of high-schoolers included livestock showmen that competed with their animals, experienced judgers and first-time judgers. The two members who competed in the showing part of the Nile (Northern International Livestock Expo) were Lipp and Jace Rich. Rich, a freshman at NHS, has shown for a very long time and won big titles with many different steers, and his job at the Nile was described as “the guy that prepared show calves.” 

Rich spent most of his time washing, fitting and clipping calves to better prepare them for the show, and then spent hours working throughout the show to make sure all of the daily chores — such as feeding, watering and preparation — were completed. 

That left little room for making memories, but Rich says that the shows are all about making new friends and meeting many different people. His favorite memory from the trip was “being a part of a team, as well as seeing my college friends, who I consider brothers to me.” 

JJ Lipp competed in showing in addition to judging. He has found a love and passion for the showing and judging livestock world, and spends much time at judging camps and traveling to different shows. Lipps’s role at the Nile looked similar to that of Rich’s. Lipp is the livestock judging captain, so he got everyone ready and calmed nerves. When showing, Lipp made sure the animals were fed, watered and fitted for the shows. In both experiences, Lipp said, showing was the most stressful part, as well as the responsibility of the team. He also shared how both roles aren’t really that different. Because of showing, he said, he wouldn’t be the livestock judger he is today. 

First-time livestock judger Aidan Butler said that his experience was good and that he performed better than he anticipated. He felt good going into the contest and expected that it was going to be fun. He also was confident in his team’s performance because of what practices were looking like. Butler had great success but also shared his biggest struggle: judging goat classes. He said  the whole team could work harder on learning that skill. 

During their debriefing, the team said some classes need more practice. With the team’s success, they decided on the motto “Winning is the only option.” 

The teams will travel to the Black Hills Stock Show to compete again in February. 

The chapter also competed well in horse judging, with a senior team of Brook Martell, Canyon Farnsworth, Avery Doyle and Bailey Griffin and a junior team of Kaitlyn Blumenthal, Brooklyn Benshoof, Callie Christensen and Brynne Kilby. The teams placed their chapter in the top seats of the competition. In horse judging, sophomore Griffin has been around horses for almost her whole life She shared what she enjoys, how she prepares and some of her challenges going into the competition. Griffin says that her biggest challenge is talking reasons, because of filler words and stumbling. Realizing her weakness, Bailey prepared to help her succeed the day of competition. She often prepares, she said, by looking up to her role models, who are skilled in this area, and by applying qualities she has learned from them, as well as helping her team apply the same qualities. This preparation set her up for great success and an even greater time. Griffin said that she enjoyed the experience of being in agriculture and learning all there was to learn at practice and competition.

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