GFB honors Georgia Junior National Livestock Champions
By Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) celebrated the latest group of Georgia Junior National Livestock Show grand champion exhibitors during its Evening of Champions dinner on June 24. GFB was thrilled to resume holding the event at its state office in Macon after the COVID pandemic prevented large gatherings the previous two years.
This is the 11th consecutive year GFB has sponsored the cash prizes and belt buckles awarded to the Ga. Jr. National Livestock grand champion species exhibitors.
The Ga. Jr. National is open to Georgia 4-H and FFA members from across the state. The show is the culmination of the two youth programs’ livestock projects, which give students a chance to learn how to care for beef cattle, dairy heifers, hogs, goats and lambs for months, train them to be shown, and then compete for state honors as having the best species animal in various categories.
About 1,960 Georgia 4-H and FFA students from across the state showed 2,834 animals as they competed in the 2022 Ga. Jr. National Livestock Show Feb. 23-26 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry. About 320 4-H and FFA members showed 576 goats in the 2021 Georgia Jr. Market Goat Shows held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter last October while the 2021Georgia Jr. Market Lamb show drew 192 exhibitors who showed 363 lambs.
“Tonight, we celebrate your hard work and dedication in the show ring,” GFB President Tom McCall said. “Showing livestock gives you confidence, teaches you patience, teaches you that everything in life isn’t about you, teaches you to be a humble winner and a gracious loser, and teaches you the reward of investing your time and money into doing something that brings you joy.”
GFB sponsored the custom belt buckles made for each grand champion exhibitor and a total of $13,000 in prize money awarded to the students.
The grand champion exhibitors are as follows:
Beef Heifer - Morgan McDaniel, Jackson County
Jackson County Empower FFA member Morgan McDaniel won the Grand Champion Beef Heifer award of $2,500 with her high percent Simmental Bertha that was bred and raised on the McDaniel’s farm. Bertha was calved from another high percent Simmental heifer, Diddo, that Morgan won this award with in 2016. The daughter of Will and Nichole McDaniel of Jefferson, Morgan was a junior when she won this award in February. Jacob Segers was her FFA advisor. Morgan has been showing livestock for nine years.
Breeding Doe - Morris Lee, Madison County
Madison County FFA student Morris Lee won $1,000 for exhibiting the grand champion breeding doe (female goat). The son of Byron and Beth Lee of Comer, Morris was a sixth-grade student at Madison County Middle School when he won the award in February. His FFA advisor was Sarah Holmes. Morris has been showing animals for six years.
Breeding Ewe - Mac Heuer, Greene County
Greene County 4-Her Mac Heuer won $1,000 for showing the grand champion breeding ewe he called Oakley. The son of Jeff and Jessica Heuer of Greensboro, Mac has been showing livestock for about 12 years. He was a homeschooled senior when he won his award in February. His 4-H agent was Monte Stephens.
“I like the challenge of showing sheep because they’re very hard to show,” Mac said. “I also like the competition aspect of showing against other kids.”
Mac also shows hogs.
Commercial Dairy Heifer - Camden Huff, Oglethorpe County
Oglethorpe County 4-H member Camden Huff won the $1,500 grand champion commercial dairy heifer award with her Jersey Posey.
Camden’s older brother, Luke, won reserve champion with his Holstein. The siblings competed against each other all show season Camden said.
“He’s been beating me all year, so it was fun to see if I could do it,” Camden said. “I do have to thank him. I wouldn’t have won it without him.”
Of her Jersey, Posey, Camden said, “She’s sweet, and once she sees the show ring, she’s ready to go!”
The daughter of Jonathon and Shalon Huff of Lexington, Camden was a fourth grader at Oglethorpe County Elementary School when she won her show in February. She has been showing livestock for five years. Shanna Reynolds is her 4-H agent.
Market Barrow - Matthew Ferrell, Brooks County
Brooks County High School FFA member Matthew Ferrell won the $1,500 grand champion market barrow award with his hog Hammer, which was named for his high school’s symbol for hard work and determination.
The son of Ben and Jennifer Ferrell of Quitman, Matthew was a junior when he won his show in February. He has been showing for 11 years. His ag teacher is Chad Schneider.
“This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience winning,” Matthew said of showing the grand champion. “Hogs are a lot of work, but I enjoy being in the hog barn working with them.”
Market Gilt - Raegan Denton, Houston County
Houston County 4-Her Raegan Denton won the $1,500 grand champion market gilt award with her crossbred pig Natty. The daughter of Matt and Ashley Denton of Perry, Raegan has been showing for seven years. She was a third grader at Kings Chapel Elementary when she won her show in February. Samantha Price is her 4-H agent. Raegan’s mother is an ag teacher, so she comes by showing naturally.
“My parents asked me if I wanted to show years ago, and I tried it, and I loved it,” Raegan said. “I like showing with my friends and the competition of showing.”
Market Wether – Cheyne Norton, Grady County
Grady County 4-Her Cheyne Norton won $1,500 for exhibiting the 2021 Georgia Jr. Grand Champion Market Wether.
Cheyne, the son of Chad and Brandi Norton, has been showing livestock for nine years. He also shows lambs and hogs. He was a freshman at Cairo High School when he won the award last fall.
“It feels great to win this championship,” Cheyne said. “I started showing because I had friends and family showing. I’d encourage other kids to get into showing to meet friends and learn how to take care of animals.”
Cheyne’s win carries on a family winning streak. His older sister, Lily won the award in 2020, and his first cousin, Tanner won it in 2019. Cheyne’s 4-H agent is Deron Rehberg.
Market Doe – Mallory Lee, Madison County
Madison County Middle School FFA member Mallory Lee received $1,500 for exhibiting the 2021 grand champion market doe.
The daughter of Byron and Beth Lee of Comer, Mallory has been showing goats for six years. She was a seventh grader when she won the award last fall.
“Sometimes she can be a little stubborn, but most of the time she works well and is really sweet,” Mallory said of her winning goat that she calls K.P.
Mallory said her family chose K.P. for the doe’s muscling, length of body, width and overall balance.
“I wasn’t expecting to win, but I knew I had a chance,” Mallory said.
Market Lamb – Tanner Norton, Grady County
Grady County 4-Her Tanner Norton won $1,500 for showing the 2021 grand champion market lamb with his Hamp-Suffolk cross, Walker.
It is his third win in the category since 2018. His secret?
“Work hard,” said Tanner, who followed in the footsteps of his father, Clay, when he started showing livestock. Tanner credited Grady County 4-H Agent Deron Rehberg for teaching him showmanship.
Tanner, who was a junior at Cairo High School when he won last fall, has been showing livestock, including steers, hogs and goats for 11 years. He is the son of Clay and Cindy Norton.