During competitions Nov. 1-4, 2023, Los Banos High School’s FFA Dairy Cattle Judging team took home third place nationally. In addition a Los Banos High Spanish Creed student took home fifth place nationally. The competitions happened at the 96th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The school’s dairy cattle judges will next be heading to the international competition in Edinburgh, Scotland tentatively from June 21 to June 30 this year, although the final dates have not yet been confirmed.

Dairy cattle judging is a competition to do just that, judge dairy cattle. Teams have to learn every aspect of cows and how to grade them.

Grading is not as simple as a letter grade, the judges must also give exact reasons for their judgment. The competition judges will compare how close the grading got to what the cattle should be judged for.

Originally it was reported that the team had taken home fourth place nationally. At the Dec.14 meeting of the school board, FFA Advisor Stuart McCullough informed the board that LBHS had actually achieved third.

According to McCullough, judges had “forgotten one portion adding into the scores.” With the bump in their score, the LBHS team is set to compete in the Royal Highland International Livestock Judging Competition.

“I think this will be the first [that] any team we’ve had is competing in another country, especially overseas,” McCullough said. He further stated, “It’s really going to be a once in a lifetime trip, so it’s going to be amazing for the kids and everyone else involved.”

“It had been 60 years since the Los Banos FFA represented California at this contest,” he said.

The four on the cattle judging team and their accomplishments are as follows: Zoey Wooten-Bronze, Karley Rocha-Gold, Brooklyn Silva-Gold, and Matthew Pacheco-Gold and fifth overall individually.

“Represent? These four did for sure,” McCullough said. “FFA is just like agriculture. It has no boundaries, line in the sand or ‘Cross-Town Clash.’ The FFA is one big family that unites its members with one uniform and one emblem nationwide.”

Javier Powell