Photo by Matt Stensland
Catharine Koroulis holds an animal at her Clark home last year. Koroulis won the state title in livestock judging in June in Fort Collins.
Steamboat Springs The more Catharine Koroulis gets to talk, the better she does in livestock-judging competitions for 4-H.
Ever since judging coaches suggested Koroulis join the Routt County livestock-judging team four years ago, she's placed in the top two at the state 4-H competition three times and has gone home with top honors twice.
"I think I had a lucky day," Koroulis said about placing first in the June 24 contest held in Fort Collins.
Livestock judging contestants at the state competition placed 12 sets of four animals according to how well they met judging criteria. For six of those sets, contestants explained to a judges panel why they put the animal where they did. In contests with more opportunities to provide logical reasons, Koroulis shines.
"I think the thing that gave me probably my biggest advantage is that we did six sets of reasons," she said. Many contests require three sets of reasons.
"I'm not great at placing, but my best attribute is probably my speaking skills."
Koroulis, a member of the Elk River Rangers 4-H Club, and South Routt 4-H member Morgan Hatfield each earned enough top-10 finishes in livestock-judging competitions this year to qualify for the all-state team in the event, Routt County livestock-judging coach Rod Wille said. The Routt County judging team - which also includes Ceanna Rossi and Abbey Horn - placed fourth in the state, putting the group one spot outside of three national competitions.
Koroulis and Hatfield might qualify for an international judging competition that is separate from the national contests, Wille said. With the same group of girls returning as a team next year, Wille said he hopes to take the Routt County group to a national competition in Louisville, Ky., in 2010.
Livestock judging requires strong public speaking skills and a competitive spirit, Wille said. Both qualities come naturally to Koroulis, he said.
"She could take one of my sentences that I say on a regular basis and switch it around, and it's just like art for her," Wille said.
Koroulis and Hatfield are likely to earn scholarship money and recruitments from college judging programs, he said.
Koroulis, who will be a senior at Steamboat Springs High School next school year, said she plans to stick with judging through college. The pursuit has increased Koroulis' time management skills, boosted her confidence and improved her critical thinking while exposing her to something new, she said.
"We have horses and we team rope a little bit, but we're not a ranching family by any means. : I think it's good to get new kids in the program and expose them to something that's a little different but might help them out in the long run," Koroulis said.