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Stark-Billings County 4-H students bring home the bacon from national meat judging contest

A group of seven high school students with the Stark-Billings County 4-H won second place in retail cuts and overall judging.

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Students prepare to give their presentations at the National 4-H Meat Judging Contest in Manhattan, KS. (Contributed / NDSU Extension)
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A group of 4-H students with the Stark-Billings County North Dakota State University Extension recently competed in a national meat judging context in Kansas, taking second place for retail cuts and second in overall judging.

Seven students — aged 15 to 18 — along with coaches Wyatt Schulte and Kurt Froelich attended the American Royal 4-H Meat Judging Contest Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Manhattan, Kansas. The contest was hosted by Kansas State University.

Wyatt Dorner took third place in overall individual judging, while other members of the team include Quinn Polensky, Jess Schulz, Katie Schmidt, Taylor Downing, Will Schmidt, Dorner and Justin Kathrein. The group qualified for this event after the senior division team won first place at the state level competition in May. The intermediate division also took first place at that event, highlighting the team's tremendous coaching.

Froelich said he’s proud of the students and that they exceeded his expectations by placing.

“If the kids can get their name called or the state called, then everybody knows that we were there. I always consider that a win,” Froelich said. “When we added all the scores together, we ended up sixth place in the nation.”

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Approximately 30 different retail cuts of meat were on display in which students had to identify what species it was, determine where on the animal it came from and judge each sampling for its quality, Froelich noted.

Froelich provided examples of the questions asked.

“Does it come from the loin? Did it come from the rib, brisket, the round? Or was it a variety cut? Variety cuts are usually your organs (such as) kidney, liver, heart, tongue,” he said.

After that, students had to match the cuts to the correct retail name and determine how it should be cooked. For example, they had to explain if it should be cooked dry on the grill like a steak, or if it should be cooked with moisture in a crock-pot. They gave three sets of oral presentations explaining why they judged the meat the way they did.

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High school students in 4-H learn about meat processing at the South Dakota State University meat lab in Brookings. (Contributed / NDSU Extension)

On the way to Kansas, the group of students stopped at the NDSU and South Dakota State University meat labs in Fargo and Brookings, S.D. They also visited grocery stores in Omaha and participated in a practice contest at the University of Nebraska’s-Lincoln campus.

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Students with the Stark-Billings County 4-H group pose with their awards at the state level competition in May. (Contributed / NDSU Ext)

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