NC State Fair Livestock Scholarship Program Helps Fund FFA Livestock Judging Contest

Following is a guest post from Marisa Linton. Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock, and currently lives on her family’s small farm in Mount Olive. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 14 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

The N.C. State Fair Livestock Scholarship Program provides more than scholarships for college students. It also provides funds for youth competing in 4-H and FFA livestock events throughout the year and across the state. The FFA livestock judging competition is one such an event.

The competition recently hosted almost 600 students from all over the state in Raleigh. Students judged cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. Each class had four animals to be placed on a card by each contestant. In addition to placing each class, there were also reasons and questions classes.

In reason classes, students must explain their placings to a judge. They may explain why one animal is more muscular and wider while another animal was not structurally correct and too short-bodied. The judge scores the contestant on their delivery and accuracy in describing the class.

Question classes encourage students to take extra-meticulous notes. They are given a chance to study their notes. When time is called, notes are tucked away, and questions are asked. Questions may include: which pig had floppy ears or which sheep was the heaviest muscled in the class but was limping? Students receive points for number of correct answers.

These sections of the competition teach students a great deal. They learn to analyze animals, pay attention to detail, prepare a speech, deliver an opinion, and recall facts. What they learn will stay with them throughout their life.

Contestants were divided into three age categories—middle (6,7,8 grades), junior (9 and 10 grades), and senior (11 and 12 grades).

The top three winners in each age category were:


  1. Hannah Caddell of Mount Pleasant Middle FFA
  2. Cuyler Daly of Mount Olive Middle FFA
  3. Caleb McNeil of Southwestern Randolph Middle FFA


  1. Anna Hill of South Stokes
  2. Mackenzie Hall of Orange
  3. Mary Wood of West Johsnton


  1. Hanna Ellis of McDowell
  2. Riddick of Gates County
  3. Madison Sifford of Southern Alamance

The top middle school team went to Clayton Middle FFA. The top junior went to Orange High School with second going to South Stokes High School, and third to West Johnston High School. The top senior went to Southern Nash High School while the second went to Gates County High School and third to McDowell High School.

The first-place senior team received a minimum of $1,000 scholarship to travel to the National Livestock Career Development Event (CDE) in Indianapolis during the National FFA Convention in October. This travel scholarship is funded by the N.C. State Fair Scholarship Program. In addition, the second-and-third-place senior and junior teams received plaques and recognition pins to celebrate their achievements.

“We wouldn’t be able to recognize our students without the support from the N.C. State Fair Scholarship Program,” said Alycia Thornton, director of development of the N.C. FFA Foundation.

The N.C. State Fair Livestock Scholarship Program is funded by the Sale of Champions at the fair. Because of generous buyers and supporters, around 27 scholarships are awarded to seniors, educational events are sponsored, and youth are able to compete at a national level and be recognized for their efforts.

Congratulations to all the winners! For a full list of winners visit


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