You may not know that K-State plays home to a historically prominent meats judging team; since 1927, the team has collected seven national championships and 11 reserve national championships.
Team members travel hundreds of miles representing the university to judge in Denver, Colorado; Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, Texas, as well as compete in contests in Ames, Iowa; Kansas City; Emporia, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; and Dakota City, Nebraska.
It’s on this team that students learn the value of meat evaluation by judging in these different geographical areas.
“Each area of the country has different types of meat quality, by seeing these different places we can better gauge ourselves,” said Lane Giess, senior in animal sciences and industry and 2013 team member. “The best way to learn is finding where to place emphasis in the industry, by looking at many examples we become more competitive.”
Courtney Schultz, senior in animal sciences and industry and member of the 2013 team, said she has continued to see the benefits of meats judging.
“In meat judging, I learned about how to tell where a cut of meat is on a steer; what makes it higher quality and how to describe these things effectively,” Schultz said. “It will help me in the real world because I understand how important trimness and quality is in cattle. This helps in all different sides of the beef industry from producers to the end product.”
Current member Carl Clawson, junior in animal sciences and industry, said he fully sees the benefits of being a member of the team.
“There are many possible career paths that this have opened up from traveling to multiple large packing plants,” Clawson said. “We have had student banquets and presentations about potential jobs and have been able to meet people that are offering jobs. At the next contest, the host packing plant is hosting interviews for internships.”
Although travel takes a large majority of the students time, most are willing to devote their afternoons and weekends to be a member of the program.
“I have also gotten to see some great stuff. I was able to go to New York City as a part of one of the trips and see the (National September 11 Memorial and Museum) and the Carlo’s Bakery or the Cake Boss,” Clawson said. “I have been to multiple stockyards and seen some historical sites as well.”
According to Schultz, she learned to work as a team and deal with different problems as they came up, such as organizing the little time she had.
“We traveled from Australia to Pennsylvania to southern Texas,” Schultz said. “I met people from everywhere, literally, and met many future employers at different plants. At many of the contests, we received tours of the Cargill and Tyson and listened to what they had to offer.”
Schultz said she recalls her time traveling on the meats team as being an incredible experience.
“With how much time we ended up spending together, we became like a family,” Schultz said. “I sometimes felt like I got to know the people on the team too well, but in the end, it was all worth it.”