The names are different, but the results are the same for Tift County’s 4-H poultry judging team — another national championship.
Ben Branch, Carolina Carter, Michaela Lubbers and Miles McDonald, members of Tift County’s 4-H Poultry Judging Team led Tift County to its third national championship in four years in Louisville Ky. on Thursday.
“It is a great accomplishment,” said Brian Tankersley, Tift County Extension coordinator. “The kids worked hard on winning the national competition against 21 other states across the country. They did a great job.”
Tankersley helps coach the team, along with Tift County Extension 4-H Agent Ashley Davis and volunteer George Lee. This year was Davis’ first with the Tift County team. She couldn’t have scripted a better finish.
“It’s probably the most amazing feeling,” Davis said. “I’m just proud to be a part of Tift County and the tradition that Tift County has. Just to sit at that table (Thursday) night brought tears to my eyes to see the joy in my kids. It means a lot.”
Poultry judging includes evaluating live birds and production hens, identifying parts of a bird (ready to cook) and judging eggs. Preparing for national competition involved extensive practices, sometimes three times a week.
“It’s pretty rigorous practices. We were practicing even when we were in Louisville. We held practice in the back of the bus. He held up a chicken carcass and we did ready to cook right out of the back of the bus,” Davis said. “We would break out eggs in the back of the bus. It takes a lot to get to where we came from (Thursday night).”
Team member Miles McDonald concurs with his coach.
“It’s extremely difficult. We practice sometimes three times a week, every week in spring, late into summer all the way up until now, we’ve been practicing, getting ready for this,” said McDonald, a junior at Tift County High School.
McDonald earned high overall individual judger honors, high overall market production eggs and tied with team member Michaela Lubbers for high overall identification for ready to cook.
A sophomore, Lubbers placed sixth in judging live birds and second in overall judging. She was ecstatic when talking about how the team’s hard work paid off.
“To some degree you never really expect it, but then what would you do if you didn’t? It’s just a really awesome feeling,” Lubbers said. “The trip was worth every moment of work in of itself.”
Caroline Carter, a junior, placed third overall in the national competition and in the top three in market poultry division. Ben Branch, a junior, finished twelfth in high individual overall and was second high overall in market eggs.
For more about Georgia 4-H programs, like poultry judging teams, see the website Georgia4H.org.