Stay Humble & Hustle Hard; 2015 National Barrow Show

The 2015 National Barrow Show located in Austin, Minnesota was one that Western Illinois University will never forget. From the Truckload Show to the Judging Contest to the Open Gilt Show, we were proud of our entire crew. Teamwork and WIU pride was 100% at this year’s National Barrow Show.

The first day, September 14th, the Livestock Judging Team competed in their contest and the juniors at WIU showed their truckloads that they had been working on for three weeks before the show. A truckload is a pen of six hogs that show together as a whole, instead of as an individual, like most livestock shows. Before arriving at the National Barrow Show, junior WIU students were in charge of feeding, washing, and walking these pigs twice a day. It takes a lot of work to get these truckloads looking good and trained the way they need to be for the show ring, and it certainly takes some major work ethic skills. Hard work definitely paid off for the juniors though on Monday the 14th! We had the Champion Purebred Truckload and the Reserve Champion Crossbred Truckload. Our purebred truckload went back out for overall honors, and took home the title of 2015 National Barrow Show Reserve Champion Truckload! Simply, an honor.

2015 National Barrow Show Champion Purebred Truckload & Reserve Champion Overall Truckload
2015 National Barrow Show Champion Purebred Truckload & Reserve Champion Overall Truckload

After the juniors competed in the truckload show, it was time to see how the seniors had done in the judging contest all day. Competing as a collegiate judging contestant in the 2015 National Barrow Show, was unforgettable no matter who you were or how you finished. There were a total of 18 senior college teams that competed there, located anywhere from California, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and everywhere in between. This was the largest national judging contest to take place, up to this date. I mean how awesome is it to be a part of something that big in the agriculture realm? It doesn’t get better than that, especially when livestock is your passion!

As a team, the Western Illinois Livestock Judging team finished as the High Team Overall. Excitement would be an understatement when they announced our team over the microphone. Kansas State University finished as the second high team overall, 80 points behind WIU. Team success is our goal, but we also had some outstanding individual results. There is no I in TEAM, but it certainly takes individual hard work and success to get team achievements and success. Heath Harper was the second high individual overall, Katie Lewis (me) was the fifth high individual overall, Sam Bair was sixth overall, Hank LeVan was seventh overall, Jennifer Livermore was eighth overall, and Tyler Gradert was 10th overall. We were so excited to have 6 of our team members in the top 10! There were also awards given out for Oral Reasons. Oral reasons is a portion of the contest where contestants give a minute to two minute speech on why they placed the class of livestock the way they did. Katie Lewis (me) was high individual in reasons, Sam Bair was second in reasons, Heath Harper was 3rd in reasons, and Hank LeVan was 5th in reasons. 4 out of the top 5 contestants in Oral Reasons were from WIU. Doing great in reasons at a contest is definitely awesome, but the lifelong talents and skills you gain from reasons are priceless.

  • After the contest, I had a good interview/ talk with Heath Harper. Heath finished second overall, highest on our team in the judging contest, which is a huge achievement. After asking Heath how he prepared for NBS, he answered “I just kept moving forward even after being wrong. I focused a lot on questions that they might ask in the contest, and I was always thinking about what I could be missing from descriptions (what I needed to know about each head of livestock).” Then, I asked him how he got his mind focused and ready on the morning of the contest. He says “I woke up and said it will be what it will be, & I’m just going to roll with it.” Going though the contest, Heath said he was nervous about the questions they were going to ask on some classes, but very confident in his placings and what he was going to say in the oral reasons portion. After finding out his results, Heath said he was excited about it and couldn’t have been more thrilled for not only his self, but everyone on the team after all the time it took getting ready for this contest. Next, I asked Heath how he thought this contest would help him in the future. His answer: “It will help me with public speaking and confidence in everything that I do. Plus, he will also be so proud of what he and his teammates accomplished in the future.” The last question I asked him was if he got excited more about individual or team results? He said: “I am always more excited about the team winning because it is an awesome feeling when you accomplish something as a whole.”
  • I am thankful Heath was good with me interviewing him. He did great as an individual and was definitely a huge part of our team success. What is best about Heath though, is he is a hard working, good hearted student at WIU that will work hard and do what it takes to be successful!

As if the judging team and truckload success wasn’t enough, we showed  and were successful with a Yorkshire gilt that WIU raised. Dr. Mark Hoge showed this female in the 2015 National Barrow Show Gilt Open Show, and had the honors of taking home a banner. We were named the 2015 Open Show Champion Yorkshire Gilt. Winning with this outstanding gilt, was a great opportunity for the Western Illinois University Swine Farm. Not only did we get our name out there for future bred gilt and show pig sales, but we also were able to sell her in the gilt sale the next day and make money for our school’s farm.

Judging coach , Dr. Mark Hoge, showing the 2015 National Barrow Show Champion Yorkshire Gilt in the open show.
The whole WIU crew with the winning Yorkshire gilt!


“Stay Humble, Hustle Hard” is a quote that the WIU Judging Team has taken to heart. No matter how much success you have, you work harder for the next contest and most importantly remain humble. Focus, determination, and work ethic typically determine anyone’s success. On the van ride home,  coach Mark Hoge was sure to tell us that he was beyond excited and proud of our results, but our work wasn’t done and we needed to be confident, yet humble in ourselves and work even harder for the next contest.

After returning to school on the 16th, we were greeted with many congratulations. It felt good to feel the support and excitement from the whole school. Just like everyday in the year, it certainly was a great day to be a Leatherneck!

2015 National Barrow Show Champion Livestock Judging Team Overall

Blogged by: Katie Lewis

I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am graduating early, this December, with a major in agriculture science and a minor in agronomy. At WIU, I am a passionate member of the Livestock Judging Team, Ag-Vocator club, Collegiate Farm Bureau club, and Hoof-n-Horn club.



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