The Longview High School FFA team has set a high bar for years to come. Competing in its first ever regional and state meat judging contests, the students placed as reserve champions in the Region VI competition against 91 other schools – and garnered 41st statewide out of more than 1,300 programs.
And the Longview High School Meat Laboratory is still months from opening its doors.
“The team has astonished me with their dedication and perseverance,” advisor John Denson said. “For them to place this high in their first year, the students had to learn quickly to apply the knowledge from the classroom in ‘real world’ applications.”
The meats evaluation team consists of Keegan Allen, DeKaylon Dudley, Martin Moreno and Eric Perez. In the Livestock Evaluation Contest, Longview was represented by Mitch Randall, Callie Faul, Tyler Romack and Jessie Thompson.
The meats contest is based on the practical skill of identifying, classifying and evaluating the three main species of livestock produced for human consumption – beef, pork and lamb. The contest involves a great deal of technical knowledge regarding animal science, anatomy and food handling. Students must properly identify cuts of meat and cooking methods as well as evaluate carcasses based on USDA standards.
This time next year, the team will have had the benefit of classroom and laboratory learning, as a $2.2 million meat lab is set to be open and operational when the 2014-15 school year begins on August 25. The facility is under construction just north of the main Longview High School campus off Airline Road.
As if students aren’t motivated enough that major meat industry employers attended the contest to show students that jobs await them down the road, their team captain Keegan Allen will attend Tarleton State University in the fall and plans to compete on its nationally-ranked meat judging team.
“I feel the team will continue their success in years to come and we will see more students from Longview High School pursuing higher degrees in animal science, meat science, food Science, muscle biology and agriculture by earning meat judging scholarships at major universities,” Denson said.