Like young NBA prospects, some members of Routt County 4-H are being recruited by the pros.
Business people in the agriculture industry took notice of the Routt County 4-H Livestock Judging Team when it took first place two weeks in a row, first beating 24 other teams at the Weld County Livestock Judging Competition and then topping 35 teams to win Saturday's Gunnison Livestock Judging Contest, one of the biggest competitions of the year.
Of the eight members of the team, five are Rossis.
Sarajane Rossi, 13, who placed first individually at both competitions, and Kim Rossi, 13, who took 15th in Gunnison and 11th in Weld County, have received offers for future jobs in the livestock judging business. Both also made the top 10 in four previous judging competitions.
Sarajane won the high individual swine-judging and high individual reasons awards in Gunnison, the later of which is given to the contestant who is the strongest public speaker in communicating her reasons for her judging decisions.
Most notably, with one competition still left on the livestock-judging calendar, Sarajane already has accumulated enough points to be named to the 4-H All-State Judging Team, an honor bestowed upon the year's top 10 4-H livestock judges in the state.
"They take the top-10 kids in the state and she's already made it with one left, which is pretty impressive," Routt County 4-H livestock judging coach Rod Wille said, noting that Kim and Ceanna Rossi, 11, also accumulated all-state points but will come up just shy of making the all-state team.
Michael Rossi, 11, Josie Rossi, 9, and Ceanna, are following in their footsteps. In Gunnison, Ceanna placed third individually out of 139 competitors and won the high individual beef-judging and high individual placing award, the latter of which is given to the individual competitor who best places animals in each of the classes judged.
Livestock judging requires public speaking ability and knowledge of the agriculture industry. Judges rate a group of pigs, sheep or cows based on traits such as structural correctness and muscle tone. Determining quality animals is key in determining their market value.
Livestock judging with 4-H is not only great job training, coach Rod Wille said; scholarships are available for it and it provides real life experience.
"This is the best team we've ever had," Wille said Wednesday, as several of the youngsters weighed their sheep at the Routt County Fairgrounds for the upcoming 90th Routt County Fair Junior Livestock Competition. "It's hard for Western Slope teams to compete because they are small teams. Some counties can pick the cream of the crop for competitions, while we have eight total members.
"The difference here is the work ethic. They work so hard."
The Routt County team of Abbey Horn, 9, Taylor Weishaar, 13, Morgan Hatfield, 12, and the Rossis won embroidered folding chairs for their victory in Weld County. The team also placed an impressive seventh out of 37 teams in Sterling the week before.
Routt County 4-H members hope their winning streak will carry over when they host a livestock judging competition June 5 at the Routt County Fairgrounds.