Thursday, May 10, 2007

A successful Sheep & Wool Skillathon

Kaitlyn Fuss (Frederick County) examines the fleece of a Romney ewe held by UMES student Shannon Uzelac The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival hosted its second Sheep & Wool Skillathon on May 6, 2007. Ninety-five (95) youth from six states and nine Maryland counties competed for top honors.

Charlie Sasser was the first place junior (age 8-10). Charlie led his St. Mary's/Calvert County team to a first place finish in the junior team competition. Charlie's team members included Jason Fore and Gabrielle Corey. Dean Bennett from Carroll County was the second place junior. Frederick County had the second place junior team.

Patrick Ransom from Frederick County was the first place intermediate (age 11-13). Doug Megee from Cecil County placed second. The first place intermediate team was the Carroll County team, composed of Brianne and Ryan Hevner and Lukas Zeigler. Frederick County had the second place intermediate team.

In the senior division, Claire Bennett was the winner for the second year in a row. Her Carroll County team was victorious in the senior team competition. Claire's teammates include her brother Troy, Drew Cashman, and Ashley Hevner. Rachel Manning was the second place senior. Her St. Mary's/Calvert County team also placed second.

Skillathon Winners: Charlie Sasser (L), Patrick Ranson (C) and Claire Bennett (R) - image by Jeff Semler
Skillathon winners: Charlie Sasser, Junior (L), Patrick Ransom,
Intermediate (C) and Claire Bennett, Senior (R)

In the Skillathon, youth are tested on their knowledge of sheep and wool. This year, the participants were required to identify feed and forages, breeds, equipment, diseases, and cuts of meat. They judged a class of hay, Romney ewes, and Rambouillet fleeces and took a written test. Senior teams had a group problem in which they had to calculate average daily gain, feed efficiency, cost of gain, and profitability for lambs being fed for market.

Sponsors of the 2007 Sheep & Wool Skillathon included Maryland Cooperative Extension, the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (a committee of the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association), Greene's Lamb (White Hall, MD), and Ruppersberger & Sons (one of Maryland's largest lamb processors). Numerous extension faculty and volunteers helped to make this year's Skillathon a success.

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is always held the first full weekend in May. Next year's skillathon will be held on Sunday, May 4, 2008. It is open to any youth between the ages of 8 and 18.