There have been a multitude of youth livestock project members that have participated in WI Youth Livestock State events over the years, but after they graduate from 4-H or FFA, we often ask,
“Where are they now?”
We recently were fortunate enough to meet up with former Columbia County 4-H Alumnus, Scott Howard. Scott was active in 4-H and FFA participating in livestock and meat judging, as well as showing Angus cattle. These activities allowed him the opportunity to travel many places, including Colorado State University where he eventually enrolled as an undergraduate. At Colorado State, Scott majored in Animal Science and was active in the meat, wool and meat animal evaluation programs. The meat judging program prompted Scott to pursue a graduate degree in meat science, and eventually a career with Cargill where he is a Senior Food Scientist in the Beef Research and Development group.
Check out our Q and A session with Scott as we learn how his involvement in 4-H Meats judging had an impact on him personally as well as professionally and read what advice he has for youth involved in WI Youth Livestock Educational Events to take advantage of.
Q and A with Scott Howard
What inspired you to get involved in 4-H/FFA meats judging?
Scott: I credit my coaches, Gail Goehring and Todd Taylor, for exposing me to meat judging. Gail and Todd mentored me throughout my time in 4-H and encouraged me to make the most of my experience. Meat judging allowed me to connect many of the things I learned in livestock judging to economically important traits that were evaluated in meat judging. Without a thorough understanding of meat evaluation, I don’t feel as though I would have been able to fully comprehend much of what was evaluated in market animals.
At what point as a youth, did you determine your future career plans, and did they always involve agriculture?
Scott: My career plans always involved agriculture, but were not always focused on the packing sector. Initially, I wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Throughout my collegiate experience I was exposed to a wide variety of career options. Most of this “exposure” occurred as a direct result of my involvement in the judging programs. Following my experience meat judging in 2006, I knew that the packing sector was where I wanted to work.
How did participating in WI Youth Livestock Program Educational events help you in your college career and even professionally?
Scott: I owe a large part of my professional success to the many individuals involved in the WI Youth Livestock Programs. My coaches, Gail Goehring and Todd Taylor, not only taught our teams to be successful, but also exposed us to countless opportunities for professional development and future success. The teams I was a part of included many tremendous individuals who constantly pushed each other to succeed. We were also fortunate enough to learn from leaders in the livestock industry who were always willing to impart their knowledge. Lastly, the contributions of numerous individuals in UW Extension cannot be overlooked for their time and energy dedicated to putting on contests.
Meats judging is a very involved event and can be intimidating to youth looking to participate. What advice do you have for those livestock project members why judging meats is important?
Scott: Simply put, without an understanding of meat evaluation, you will never fully understand the livestock industry. More importantly, without exposure to the meat industry you will not be able to explore the full realm of professional options in the agriculture industry. I have had teammates who have pursued careers in the meat industry and some who have not, but none who have regretted their experience meat judging.
Please share any other words of wisdom and/or reasons why youth livestock members should get involved in educational events such as meats judging and beyond?
Scott: My best advice would be to simply get involved and work hard. I didn’t do anything special to end up where I am today, I was simply fortunate enough to get involved in activities that allowed me to explore a wide variety of professional options and now I work in a job that I love. By surrounding yourself with great people such as those in the meat judging world, you will be bound to succeed.