Thirty students wandered around the pens of bison late last week at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, peering intently at the animals, and jotting down notes, before standing before a panel of seasoned bison ranchers to defend their reasons for favoring one animal over another. They were competing in the annual Larry Higgins Bison Judging Contest, hosted by the National Bison Association.
When the dust settled and the competition ended, Regan Allen of Laramie County 4-H, won the top senior high competition, and Spencer Bohenkamp of Mountain Grove Elementary, walked away with the top junior individual honors, while the top team honors went to the Laramie County 4-H group of Blair Sanchez, Cooper Sanchez, Regan Allen, and Gavin Masters.
The second-place winter in the senior competition was Garrett Greene of Eastern Wyoming, and the third-place honor went to Gavin Masters, of Jefferson County, CO 4-H. Allen was awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the National Buffalo Foundation, Greene received a $1,200 scholarship sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Bison Association, and Masters received a $900 scholarship sponsored by Rocky Mountain Natural Meats.
John Graves, President of the Rocky Mountain Bison Association, and organizer of the event stated, “This year’s Junior Judging event was fantastic, and the participants had a wonderful time despite the cold and the snow. After a two year hiatus of the event, having 26 kids come out for the event was great to see. The GTSS animals were some of the highest quality we have had, making judging them quite a challenge, but it was a challenge the kids worked hard for. GTSS Judge Dr. Gerald Parsons helped to pick the classes for Junior Judging and threw in a couple challenging animals to really test the kids. Overall the kids performed well in the live animal placings. The kids gave oral reasons for the Two Year Old Bred Heifer class. Over the years participants have continued to improve the oral reasons, this year was no exception with very throughout and convincing reasons being given. We look forward to the 2024 Junior Judging event and hope to grow participation levels back up to where they we pre-covid.”
The Junior Judging competition is held annually at the National Western Stock Show by the National Bison Association and the Rocky Mountain Bison Association, which collectively represent nearly 2,000 members in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. Information on the National Bison Association is available at www.bisoncentral.com.