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What is 4-H Meat Judging?

Florida 4-H members judge beef rounds at the UF/IFAS Animal Science Department meat science clinic. Photo Credit: Brian Estevez, UF IFAS Escambia County

Florida 4-H provides learning opportunities, camps, contests, shows and events in a multitude of areas for its members. The 4-H meat science project allows youth to learn about the different cuts of meat including quality factors that affect the safety and taste of the meat products we consume. The project culminates each year in April at the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest.  The 2018 contest is April 21, 2018 at the Meat Processing Center at the University of Florida.  The UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences also hosts a Livestock/Meat Judging Clinic on January 12-13 in Gainesville to prepare 4-H and FFA members for the contest.

What is 4-H Meat Judging?

Many Florida 4-H members are already in the production of meat products through exhibiting market steers, swine, sheep, and goats at livestock competitions. Through participation in judging contests and other leadership contests, agents, leaders, and youth learn valid, science-based information to consider when evaluating and making decisions, as well as learning proper meat storage and handling procedures. This knowledge and expertise to purchase safe, nutritious meat products gives future agricultural and food industry leaders a broader view of the livestock industry.

The 4-H Meat Judging Contest is composed of three areas, retail cut identification, carcass, wholesale, and retail placing classes, and oral reasons.  4-H members have to identify 50 retail cuts, including the species, primal, retail name, and cooking method.  Youth then have to rank eight placing classes (carcass, wholesale, and retail classes).  Finally youth have to give two sets of reasons on the placing classes that they have ranked.

This project area helps youth improve life skills, such as decision making, communications skills and confidence, but it also provides them a very practical skill they can use every time they visit the grocery store or butcher shop. Youth learn how to examine a cut of meat to determine which will be of the highest quality and flavor. Whether they cook for themselves or others, this useful skill will be perfected over time.

Another exciting aspect of the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest is the opportunity to attend National 4-H Meat Judging Contests.  The first place senior team earns a trip to Kansas State University to participate in the National 4-H Meat Judging Contest as part of the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City.  The second place senior team earns a trip to Denver to participate in the National Western Roundup Meat Judging Contest as part of the Western National Livestock Show.

In addition to the meat judging contest, Florida 4-H offers the Hog and Ham program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest:

The Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program is a statewide 4-H program which takes the participant through the total process of pork production from beginning to end. Youth select a feeder pig and grow it to harvesting weight, all the while keeping records on feed amounts and costs, health care, expenses, weights, etc.  Youth harvest the hog and process it into wholesale or retail cuts.  The project concludes by participating in a retail comparison project, completing a record book, and presenting a demonstration or illustrated talk to the other participants.

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest was created to further enhance the 4-H meat project by allowing youth to demonstrate their food and fire safety, meat selection, and outdoor cooking skills.  Youth grill one of four proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or whole turkey breast), or shrimp.  Youth are judged on their food and fire safety and meat palatability.  Four regional contests throughout Florida are held between April and July, with a state contest held in the fall.  Over $18,000 in scholarships were provided for winners in 2017.

The Florida 4-H meat judging contest is a fun event that can enhance your knowledge of the agricultural and food industries.  The Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest, in conjunction with the Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest, provides a well-rounded animal science education to all Florida 4-H members!

For more information about getting started (either as a youth member or as a volunteer), contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

4-H Tailgate Cookery Contest

This contest teaches youth about meat science, food safety and communication skills.

Tailgating.  The smell of charcoal in the air.  Cooking over a hot grill.  Earning lots of scholarship money?

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest completed its first year in 2016, giving out over $15,000 in scholarship money to 4-H members.  This was made possible by sponsorships from Winn-Dixie, National Beef, and Sonny’s.  In 2017, Sanderson Farms joins the list of sponsors for this statewide event.

While earning scholarship money is great, youth also learn many valuable life skills in the art of grilling.  A curriculum series was developed (see below) to help youth learn about fire-building, meat selection, cooking safety, smoking and slow cooking meat, and cooking equipment.  The Northwest District has been very proactive in hosting different tailgate and grilling day camps throughout the panhandle to further youth learning.

Youth demonstrate their knowledge during the district and state contests, and can win a college scholarship.

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest allows youth to grill two 6-8 ounce portions of one of the following proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or turkey breast), and headless, deveined, fresh shrimp.  At each contest, judges will observe the food and fire safety of each participant and ask students questions about their recipe and safety knowledge.  A team of judges will then evaluate the cooked product.

There are four contests hosted throughout the state including the South contest at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf, the Central contest in Dade City, the Northeast contest at the UF Horse Teaching Unit, and the Northwest contest held at the Washington County Fairgrounds.  After youth compete at the local county contests/day camps, they can register for the district contest.  The Northwest contest will be held on July 22, where the first place winner in each protein category receives $400, second place $250, third place $100, and fourth place $50.  The top two winners from each protein area at the district contest are then eligible to compete in the state contest held at the University of Florida on October 14, 2017.  For the state contest, the first place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.

We hope to see you at one of the many grilling opportunities offered throughout the Northwest District this summer through 4-H!

Day Camp Dates and Locations:

Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to inquire about other Florida 4-H Tailgating Day Camps and to register for the District Contest.  For more information, visit these sites:

 

Announcing the 4-H Tailgating Cookery Contest

The 4-H Tailgating Contest is a great way to learn about nutrition and food safety.

The 4-H Tailgating Contest is a fun way to learn about nutrition and food safety.

The “unofficial start of summer” was Memorial Day and nothing makes me think of summer more than the sounds and yummy smells of grilling out with family and friends.  Not only do I get to spend time with the people I love, but I also have the added benefit adding protein to our diets using low calorie preparation methods and cuts of meat or seafood.

So what’s the connection between grilling out and 4-H?  Florida 4-H is excited to introduce the First Annual 4-H Tailgating Contest.  To get youth ready for the contest, many of our counties in the Northwest District will be hosting summer day camps.  Youth will learn step by step how to choose the equipment needed to grill, how to build the fire and how to stay safe while grilling.  They will also learn about beef, poultry, seafood and pork and how to select the right cuts of meats for grilling.  A big part of grilling is enhancing the flavor of meats, so they’ll learn how to make rubs, sauces and marinades as well as the time needed to grill meats to bring out the best flavor.

This program was developed by a team of 4-H faculty led by Dr. Chad Carr, Associate Professor and Meat Science Specialist at the University of Florida.  When asked what inspired him to develop this program, he shared:

“Tailgating is popular- when the weather is good people enjoy cooking outside.  It’s also a great way to promote animal protein in the diet to combat childhood obesity by improving youth’s nutritional knowledge and food preparation skills.  Last but not least, this program will impart knowledge about safe handling and proper degree of doneness to ensure safe and palatable meat dishes.”

After county day camps, youth have the opportunity to participate in a district level contest (July 23rd) where they can earn their way to the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest.  Grilling out while you “tailgate” is a tradition before football games, so the state contest will take place on September 10th before the Gators take on the University of Kentucky in The Swamp.  An awards reception sponsored by Sonny’s and Winn Dixie and an interview during the Gator Pre-Game Show will be the highlight of the contest.

Besides one of the obvious benefits to 4-H membership of learning new skills, 4-H youth are two times more likely to make healthier choices and participate in science programs outside of school time when compared to other youth programs.  So join us as we light our grills up and find new ways to grow Florida 4-H!

Day Camp Dates and Locations:

Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to inquire about other Florida 4-H Tailgating Day Camps and to register for the District Contest.  For more information, visit these sites: