Five points. Just five little points. That’s how close West Virginia University’s Poultry Judging Team came to claiming its first national championship.
Instead, the team placed second surpassing its personal best of third place at the 2011 National Collegiate Poultry Judging Competition in Springdale, Ark.
The Mountaineers were edged out by Texas A&M University, which has dominated the competition over the last several years, by the closest point margin between first and second place in the past 10 years.
“It’s heartbreaking to work so hard and fall just short of winning,” said Joe Mortiz, the team’s coach and an associate professor of poultry science in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. “But the students still valued the connections that were made with students and faculty of other animal science programs and the realization that hard work and dedication leads to accomplishment.”
In addition to the second place finish overall, the team placed first in breed selection and carcass quality, and third in egg production and quality. Angela Lamp, an animal and nutritional sciences student from Weirton, W.Va., earned the highest individual score in the competition.
Funded by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the contest gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations governing the grading of eggs and poultry. The competition is divided into three categories: production judging, breed selection and market products judging.
Besides Lamp, the team comprises Hannah Heavner, Rush Holt and Elizabeth McKenzie. In addition to Moritz, the team was coached by graduate student Kelley Wamsley.
Heavner, an agribusiness management and rural development student from Riverton, W.Va., has been involved with poultry judging since grade school. Over the summer, she participated in an intensive internship program with Aviagen, a poultry breeder and genetics company. The company offered her a full-time position to begin after she graduates in December.
Holt, an animal and nutritional sciences student from Morgantown, W.Va., is dedicated to academics, his job at Paw Prints Veterinary Clinic and working in the lab with Scott Bowdridge, assistant professor of animal and nutritional sciences. He plans to enter a veterinary medicine program.
In addition to her required course work, Lamp works in Moritz’s laboratory and plans to begin a master’s program in the fall of 2012. In preparation for her planned thesis project on assessing the efficacy of exogenous enzyme preparations, she has helped secure funding to support her work. Lamp recently joined Moritz and Wamsley at an international poultry science meeting in Turkey.
McKenzie, an animal and nutritional sciences student from Romney, W.Va., first became associated with judging through extensive involvement in 4H and FFA. This spring, McKenzie will spend time working in Moritz’s laboratory to gain an appreciation of non-ruminant nutrition research. McKenzie plans to use the research experience to test the waters of graduate education.
CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
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