UW Wool Judging Team Wraps Up Successful 2023 Season

people posing behind a table with awards on it
Members and coaches of the 2023 UW wool judging team are, from left: front row, Whit Stewart, Hadlee Hollinger, Bailey Arends, Megan Perez, Emi Ramirez, Kristy Benjamin and Courtney Newman; back row, Dylan Laverell, Wyatt Crane, Joe Mills, Morgan Stratman, Kirby Hales, Todd Paisley and Amy Newman.

In a final competition at the Houston Livestock Show last month, the University of Wyoming collegiate wool judging team wrapped up a successful 2023 season.

The UW judges earned high team overall in the value-added category and sixth high team overall.

Team member Joe Mills was named an All-American, the only student from a non-Texas institution to receive the honor. All-American status is determined by judging season results, community involvement and grade-point average.

“What is always rewarding is to see the individual growth of these students,” says Whit Stewart, UW Extension sheep specialist and head of UW’s Sheep Program. “They all began with very little to no knowledge of the wool industry but embraced a willingness to learn.”

Members of the 2023 wool judging team were Bailey Arends, of Brighton, Colo.; Kristy Benjamin, of Pinedale; Kirby Hales, of Laramie; Hadlee Hollinger, of Casper; Mills, of Peyton, Colo.; Todd Paisley, of Wheatland; Megan Perez, of Aurora, Colo.; Emi Ramirez, of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and Morgan Stratman, of Stromsburg, Neb.

Courtney Newman, a graduate student in the UW Department of Animal Science and alumna of the UW wool judging team, served as head coach. Assistant coaches were Wyatt Crane, Dylan Laverell and Amy Newman. Tessa Maurer, a member of the 2022 wool judging team, also pitched in to lead practice sessions.

UW kicked off the 2023 season with a strong showing at the 7220 Wool Judging Invitational in Laramie Jan. 10. UW was the second high team overall as well as high team in placings, high team in grading rail, high team in live animal evaluation and second team in reasons. Paisley was named high individual overall and high individual in placings.

Two days later, the UW wool judges earned fourth high team overall at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. They again placed fourth overall at the Black Hills Wool Judging Contest in Rapid City, S.D., Jan. 31.

In February, UW tied for second high team overall at the San Antonio Collegiate Wool Judging Contest. While UW lost the tiebreaker, the team earned third in grading rail, fifth in placings and sixth in reasons.

“In addition to the accolades, it’s the character refinement that the judging process forges that brings it full circle,” Stewart says. “We’re passionate about building leaders and advocates for the sheep industry, but it’s also about developing people. I’m blown away by how unwavering the support is from the agricultural community.”

To learn more about UW’s wool judging program, email Stewart at whit.stewart@uwyo.edu or Newman at cnewman4@uwyo.edu.

About University of Wyoming Extension

Since 1914, UW Extension has provided lifelong learning opportunities to Wyoming citizens across the state. With roots in agricultural education, UW Extension supports rural communities facing contemporary challenges and changes. UW Extension brings the university’s resources to each of the state’s 23 counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation. To learn more about UW Extension, visit www.uwyo.edu/uwe or call (307) 766-5124.

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