U of Arkansas poultry judging team wins national contest

The team placed first at the USPOULTRY Foundation contest
calendar icon 23 May 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

The poultry judging team at the University of Arkansas recently placed first at the USPOULTRY Foundation Ted Cameron National Poultry Judging Contest hosted by Louisiana State University, according to a press release from the university.

Poultry judging allows competitors to show how well they execute the USDA rules and regulations covering the grading of eggs and poultry carcasses. The team also placed first in Production, Breed Selection and Market categories. Team members consisted of Kaleb Barenberg, Kylie Roesler, Crystal Velazquez and Cayla Wilson. The team is led by coaches Dennis Mason and Amanda Bromley.

Roesler, a senior poultry science student, placed first overall in the individual category. She also placed first in Market and second in Breed Selection.

"It is a great honor to be a part of the champion team and to be first-place individual," Roesler said. "This is a goal that we worked for all semester, and I am glad that we were able to support and teach one another to become successful."

The Katy, Texas, native grew up competing in poultry judging through FFA, and she found a new passion for the industry through her high school experiences.

"I had no idea where I wanted to attend college or what to study, but my high school ag teacher got me involved in this unique contest," Roesler said. "Although I am retired from competing, I can use the knowledge and skills in my agricultural career someday. I can also use this to build connections with other professionals in the industry who once participated in the contest."

Wilson, a junior studying poultry science, placed second overall in the individual category. She also placed first in Production. She said she loves the chance to share what she does with others.

"Poultry judging is an extremely unique experience," Wilson said. "I love getting to share my experiences with other people who have no concept of what our team does. I have learned many things through judging that have transferred over into my coursework and internships, and it helps me feel like a well-rounded individual."

She said poultry judging under Mason left her inspired and grateful.

"As someone who grew up as a competitive athlete, I came to college searching for something that would bring the competitive drive out of me," Wilson said. "I could not have done it without God or Mr. Mason. He has left a lifelong impact on me as someone more than just my judging coach. I see him as family and could never thank him enough for all he does for us."

Barenberg, a sophomore, placed fifth overall in the individual category. His background in poultry judging also led him to choosing poultry science as his major when it came to college.

"Poultry judging has a special place in my heart, as I grew up doing it through FFA," Barenberg said. "From my eighth-grade year to my senior year, I found success in it, and that ultimately led me to pursue a career in poultry. It's because of judging in high school that I now have a chance to judge at the collegiate level."

The team meets regularly to practice, and this year's group went above and beyond to make sure it was prepared for nationals.

"The best part of competing with my teammates is seeing how determined everyone is," Barenberg said. "A couple of weeks before the contest, we even made a point to practice four times per week, instead of the typical two. We were all passionate about this, which led us all to bond over something we really enjoyed."

Velazquez, a junior poultry science major, did not grow up in the poultry industry, like some of her teammates, and she looks at poultry judging as an opportunity to learn.

"I have learned what I like about the industry and what kind of jobs I'm open to exploring after graduation," Velazquez said. "Everything we learn in poultry judging is something we will apply in the real world."

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