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Talents on display

Youth exhibit know-how at the 2018 Tennessee Swine Show
Story and photos by Allison Parker 2/23/2018


At January’s Tennessee 4-H and FFA Swine Show, Wesley Trew, a ninth-grade FFA member at Polk County High School, displays the skills he has honed since the fourth grade in the Senior Level 1 Showmanship championship drive. Wesley placed fifth in the state out of more than 70 ninth- and 10th-grade participants.
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Nearly 300 4-H and FFA members from 38 Tennessee counties learned life skills while exhibiting over 600 hogs at the Tennessee 4-H and FFA Swine Show on Jan. 11-13 at the Tennessee Livestock Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Their passion and drive for success were evident during the intense competition at this year’s event, where youngsters exhibited their prized breeding and market hogs in a variety of categories. Tennessee Farmers Cooperative played a key role in sponsoring the event, presenting a belt buckle and Co-op jacket to exhibitors of the grand champions of the Market Hog Show and providing an additional monetary reward if those champions were given Co-op feed as part of the animal’s nutrition plan. TFC also supplied ear tags for each hog.

“TFC’s Feed Department knows firsthand the value of showing livestock because many of us grew up participating in 4-H and FFA.” says John Houston, TFC feed and animal health sales manager. “We believe projects like these play a vital role in the development of young people. It’s meaningful for us to have a part in rewarding those who excel in these youth


Judge Seth Ebert from York, Neb., kicked off the competition on Thursday evening with the newly added prospect show. The continuation of showmanship, the breeding barrow and gilt shows, the market hog show, and the skillathon competition were held on Friday and Saturday.

“I explain to youth that developing your career path and the tool box needed begins early,” says Dr. Neal Schrick, head of the Animal Science Department and professor for the University of Tennessee Knoxville. “Youth livestock events like this and the skillathon contests are a great place to start.”

According to agriculture education experts, livestock shows provide a place for students to be recognized for a wide variety of talents. The animal projects, such as the swine shows, are among the most effective programs to help youth develop important life skills.

One prime example of youth taking full advantage of all the 4-H swine program has to offer is the Trew family of Polk County. Brock Trew, an eighth grader at Chilhowee Middle school, his sister Addyson, a fifth grader at South Polk Elementary School, and cousin Wesley, a ninth grader at Polk County High School, have been showing together since they were old enough to hold a show stick. Each of the Trews started their 4-H show careers in the fourth grade. They show livestock year around whether it be cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs.

“Showing is the most tense and competitive feeling,” explains Wesley. “I would say showmanship in hogs would be my favorite area because you know that the judge is focused on you as the showman.”

The showmen’s passion has grown over the course of their show careers thanks to great-uncle Curtis Trew. This Ocoee native has devoted the last 20 years of his career to being the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Polk County High School. His background is what led him to the education field since he raised hogs, cattle, and broilers on the farm during his youth. These experiences led him to pursue a degree in Animal Science and Swine Nutrition after finishing high school.

“Farming is a family tradition,” Curtis said. “My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were farmers. I showed market hogs and steers while in 4-H and FFA, and I wanted my niece and nephews to have the same experience of raising and showing livestock.”

Curtis’ farm has served as a centralized location for his niece and nephews to keep their show pigs, where they spend a lot of time working, feeding, and practicing with their great-uncle. It is because of the passion Curtis instilled in his relatives at such a young age that they put their heart and soul into their show careers.

“All of us go to Uncle Curtis’ house and practice showing and feed the pigs about every night except on Wednesdays when we have church,” explains Addyson.

The Trew family members are loyal customers of Southeastern Farmers Co-op in Cleveland. They start their show pigs off on Co-op Zipper 25 for weaned pigs from 25 pounds to 50 pounds and then as the animals grow swap them over to Co-op Show Pig Finisher with paylean.

Purebred Gilt Show

This year’s Purebred Gilt Show featured four breeds. The Supreme Champion Purebred Gilt went to Bethany Sims of Roane County with her Yorkshire gilt. Reserve Champion Honors went to Audra Hart of Bledsoe County with her Yorkshire gilt.

Chester White– Wesley Miller, Cumberland, champion; Mary Carter Shirley, White, reserve champion. Other class winners included Aubrey Paulk, Dickson County.

Duroc– Bethany Sims, Roane, champion; John Buryl Neely, Rutherford, reserve champion. Other class winners included Brigette Swafford, Bedford, and Jenna Claire Riggins, Sumner.

Yorkshire– Bethany Sims, Roane, champion; Audra Hart, Bledsoe, reserve champion. Other class winners included Wesley Miller, Cumberland.

Any Other Breed– Katie Lamon, Giles, champion; Hannah Sanders, Warren, reserve champion. Other class winners included Jacob Vinson, Putnam County.

Purebred Barrow Show

This year’s Purebred Barrow Show featured four breeds. The Supreme Champion Purebred Barrow went to Lincoln Hart of Bledsoe County with his Yorkshire barrow. Reserve Champion Honors went to Ellie White of Clay County with her Yorkshire barrow.

Chester White– Abigayle Bartholomew, Henderson, champion; Kaitlin Taylor, Wilson, reserve champion. Other class winners included Jacob Tipton, Rutherford.

Duroc– Brigette Swafford, Bedford, champion; Lytton Haley, Rutherford, reserve champion. Other class winners included Madisyn Harris, Loudon.

Yorkshire– Lincoln Hart, Bledsoe, champion; Ellie White, Clay, reserve champion. Other Class winners included Audra Hart, Bledsoe.

Any Other Breed– Brigette Swafford, Bedford, champion; Hannah Sanders, Warren, reserve champion.

Crossbred Market Hog Show Prospect Division

A new addition to this year’s market hog show was the first-ever Prospect Division. This division included crossbred market hogs weighing 180-230 pounds and were shown on Thursday evening. This year’s division champion was a 213-pound crossbred that was shown by 10th grader Bryce Collins of Anderson County. Reserve champion of the division was exhibited by seventh grader Maddie Rippy of Sumner County.

Class winners included Emily Cline, McMinn; Cole Armstrong, Bedford; John Vermillion, Roane; Dylan Wood, Cumberland; Eli Mundy, Claiborne; Tucker Yarber, Bradley; Kalan Lusk, Warren; Caydra Jenkins, Macon; Maddie Rippy, Sumner; Bethany Sims, Roane; Bryce Collins, Anderson; Kenley Roark, Macon; Abby Starnes, Monroe; Gage Latham, McMinn; and John Vermillion, Roane.

Market Division

The Market Division included hogs weighing 230-300 pounds. The classes were divided by weight, naming weigh division champions, narrowing down to naming an overall champion and reserve champion market hog. This year’s champion honors went to Audra Hart of Bledsoe County with her 263-pound market hog. Reserve champion went to Foster Wingler of Rutherford County with his 245-pound market hog.

Divisional champions and reserve champions included Audra Hart, Division 1 Champion, Bledsoe; Paige Cornett, Division 1 Reserve Champion, Rhea; Foster Wingler, Division 2 Champion, Rutherford; John Buryl Neely, Division 2 Reserve Champion, Rutherford; Audra Hart, Division 3 Champion, Bledsoe; Eli Mundy, Division 3 Reserve Champion, Claiborne; Luke Lay, Division 4 Champion, Monroe; and Bri McLerran, Division 4 Reserve Champion, Clay.

Other class winners include Luke Lay, Monroe; Adrianna Randolph, Giles; Kaitlin Taylor, Wilson; Emily Cline, McMinn; Bryce Collins, Anderson; John Buryl Neely, Rutherford; Eli Mundy, Claiborne; Calee Pineda-Bryant, Rutherford; Maggie Lamon, Giles; Ellie White, Clay; Bri McLerran, Clay; Krya White, Macon; and Brock Trew, Polk.

Ultrasound Carcass Class

During the Ultrasound Carcass Class, exhibitors with market hogs weighing over 250 pounds or more had their market hog’s loin eye measured using ultrasound technology. The animals that have the most industry-ideal loin eye were recognized. The top five individuals included Aaylah Gibson, first, Wilson; Ella McLerran, second, Clay; Heather Whited, third, Jefferson; Kendra Sellers, fourth, Knox; and Callie Head, fifth, Sumner.

Swine Showmanship

Numerous talented, hard-working youth participated in the Showmanship competition. During this event, the judge focused on the showmanship skills rather than the quality of the market hog. Placing first in swine showmanship were Samantha Roberts, McMinn, Senior Level II; Mckinley Waters, Fentress, Level I; John Buryl Neely, Rutherford, Junior High; Audra Hart, Bledsoe, Junior; and Mary Carter Shirley, White, Explorer.


The Skillathon Contest gave students a chance to test their knowledge of their livestock species. Winners included:

Senior Level II— Keri B. Cox, first, Bradley; Abigayle Bartholomew, second, Henderson; Garrett Franklin, third, Clay; Samantha

Roberts, fourth, McMinn;

and Emily Johnson, fifth, Loudon.

Senior Level I— Ella McLerran, first, Clay; Kennedy Hill, second, Union; Liam Allen, third, Williamson; Madisyn Harris, fourth, Loudon; and Wesley Trew, fifth, Polk.

Junior High— John Buryl Neely, first, Rutherford; Eli Rich, second, Clay; Will Poynor, third, Williamson; Hannah Sanders, fourth, Warren; and Sam Lamb, fifth, Williamson.

Junior— RuthAnn Johns, first, Williamson; Micah Kibby, second, Sumner; Mason Allen, third, Williamson; Kenley Roark, fourth, Macon; and Abby Rippy, fifth, Sumner.

Explorer— Jake Head, first, Sumner; Cordell McLerran, second, Clay; Austin Carter, third, Rutherford; Caden McKnight, fourth, Monroe; and Joseph Henry, fifth, McMinn.

Premier Exhibitors

Premier Exhibitor designations were given to Expo participants who placed in showmanship, skillathon, and the show for a total of 300 points. Winners included: Senior Level II— Abigayle Bartholomew, first, Henderson; Keri Cox, second, Bradley; Samantha Roberts, third, McMinn; Garrett Franklin, fourth, Clay; and Kaitlin Taylor, fifth, Wilson.

Senior Level I— Kennedy Hill, first, Union; Madisyn Harris, second, Loudon; Wesley Trew, third, Polk; Liam Allen, fourth, Williamson; and Ella McLerran, fifth, Clay.

Junior High— John Buryl Neely, first, Rutherford; Bethany Sims, second, Roane; Hannah Sanders, third, Warren; Will Poynor, fourth, Williamson; and Sam Lamb, fifth, Williamson.

Junior— Kenley Roark, first, Macon; RuthAnn Johns, second, Williamson; Mason Allen, third, Williamson; Gracie Leath, fourth, Sumner; and Abby Grace Rippy, fifth, Sumner.

Explorer— Jake Head, first, Sumner; Cordell McLerran, second, Clay; Joseph Henry, third, McMinn; Ella Gamble, fourth, Anderson; and Caden McKnight, fifth, Monroe.

Families across the state use the State 4-H and FFA Swine Show not only as a time to show off their hard work and prized livestock, but also as a time to be together with family and friends and enjoy the fun of the memories being made. Brock Trew put into words how many of the youth gathered at the show feel: “I’d rather be showing livestock than doing anything else.”

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