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Meats Judging Competition Seasons UW Team Members

July 23, 2019
a man and three women standing together
UW meats judging team members, from left, Jacob Logar, Haley Cole, Erika Eckhardt and Clara Ritchie competed at the recent Reciprocal Meat Conference in Fort Collins. (UW Photo)

“Wyoming, please follow the moderator into your competition room,” shouted someone from the front room at the Meat Science Quiz Bowl June 22.

Four students from the University of Wyoming meats judging team, along with their coaches, McKensie Harris and Sierra Jepsen, and Cowboy Branded Meats summer intern Sarah Dey, of Cheyenne, attended the Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) in Fort Collins, Colo.

The American Meat Science Association hosts the annual event with JBS USA Food Company and Colorado State University (CSU).

Haley Cole, from Cheyenne; Erika Eckhardt, from Sterling, Neb.; Jacob Logar, from Douglas; and Clara Ritchie, from Golden, Colo., competed at the quiz bowl.

“I am blown away by how much these students changed over the course of the conference,” Harris says. “They went into the quiz bowl competition on the first day a little hesitant of their abilities, but left the RMC on the final day with a lot of pride, knowing they competed very well against many impressive teams.”

The conference hosts technical programming, social events and student activities, such as the quiz bowl competition.

Each round of competition involved 40 questions covering meat science topics. During the first 20 questions, students competed head-to-head, where one student from one team would compete against one student from the other team to see who could press the buzzer faster and answer the question correctly.

The last 20 questions were a free-for-all: Anyone from either team could buzz in to answer.

The UW team won its first two rounds against Utah State University and the University of California-Davis.

During the third round, informally called the “Border War,” UW lost against CSU. The UW team still had a chance to compete in the fourth round but came up short in the last 20 questions against Texas A&M University.

The students also competed in the Iron Chef competition. Students were paired with students from other universities and tasked with making two chicken dishes, displaying cultural seasonings found around the world.

This competition was sponsored by Pilgrim’s Pride and was at the JBS corporate headquarters in Greeley, Colo. Students had the opportunity to use the company’s state-of-the-art culinary facilities.

Cole, Logar, Ritchie, Eckhardt and Dey attended the career fair and reciprocation sessions, which allowed them time to network with professionals.

“This conference brings together people from all corners of the industry and gives our youth the chance to interact with students from other universities, academic professionals, industry leaders and research visionaries,” Jepsen says.

Students ended their time at the conference at the RMC family picnic that included a softball game, live T-shirt auction and an opportunity to socialize.

UW plans to attend next year’s RMC, hosted in conjunction with the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology in Orlando, Fla., at Disney World’s resorts. Coaches hope to have more students to compete in the quiz bowl, Iron Chef competition and expanded student opportunities.

“The excitement that attendees have for meat science is palpable, and it’s impossible to not get excited yourself about the possibilities that meat science holds,” Jepsen says. “We want our students at the University of Wyoming to feel that excitement and realize that they, too, can have a place in this industry.”

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