New Mexico high schoolers are among the top livestock judges in the country, and now they’re just a few thousand dollars away from being able to compete on the world stage.
“We’re actually the first team from New Mexico to have the chance to go to this contest. So, it really means a lot to us,” said Johnathan Aday, a sophomore and member of the FFA Livestock Judging Team at Estancia High School.
Aday, along with his teammates Andrew Lujan and Heze Ortiz, just got back from a national competition in Denver, where they won second place.
“We were pretty surprised,” said Lujan.
The boys spent months studying how the best livestock should look. They then used that knowledge to rank and judge livestock at a show in front of other judges. They are judged on how well they present their opinions.
“We put a lot of time in. During Christmas break, we had practice almost three times a week. We practiced non-stop,” said Lujan.
Their second-place ranking at nationals secured the boys an invitation to the International Livestock Judging Tour, happening this summer in Scotland, England, and Ireland.
“You get to see how agriculture works in Scotland and also judge a contest in Scotland and Ireland,” said Aday.
It’s a two-week long trip and a great opportunity. However, the trip’s total price tag is $20,000. The Estancia School Board has donated $10,000 to pay for the trip, but the boys still need $10,000 more.
The boys are hoping to get the money raised by the April 1 deadline, so they can go on the trip they worked so hard to qualify for.
“I think it’s really cool because it’s four kids from little Torrance County that did it,” said Ortiz.
If you would like to donate to the team, you’re asked to:
- address a check to ‘Estancia FFA Livestock Team’
- mail it to P.O. Box 68 Estancia, New Mexico 87016