Published on 12/13/22

Oconee County 4-H’er wins national 4-H poultry judging contest

By Josie Smith
Lexi Pritchard (left) receives her top award from a member of the Poultry Science Association. The two are standing in front of a panel of national judges.
Lexi Pritchard (left) receives her top award from a member of the Poultry Science Association at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in November. (Photo by Josie Smith)

Lexi Pritchard, a 12th grade 4-H’er from Oconee County, won first place individual at the National Poultry Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky, held Nov. 15-16 as part of the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference.

Pritchard scored 1350 points out of a possible 1500 and received top honors as an individual competitor. She has been competing as a poultry judger with Oconee County since 2018. Poultry judging is one of the most popular contests in Georgia 4-H, with 560 students participating this year.

Participants judge both live chickens and ready-to-cook market poultry, identify parts of birds already prepared for market, and evaluate eggs for their quality and readiness for sale. Following the evaluation of a live production class, participants are asked to justify their placing decisions through oral reasoning.

Students learn and utilize national poultry and egg production standards to prepare for the contest and employ the standards in decision-making situations that call for critical evaluation. Beyond the contest, 4-H’ers apply the skills they learn as poultry consumers in grocery stores and restaurants.

Pritchard also received first place in the ready-to-cook section of the contest.

Georgia 4-H sent a full delegation to the National Poultry and Egg Conference. Winta Ykeallo from Spalding County placed third in the Turkey BBQ contest. Grant Shuman from Bryan County placed fourth in the Chicken BBQ contest, and Aubrianna Stewart from Bryan County placed fourth in the Egg Preparation contest.

Turkey BBQ, Chicken BBQ and Egg Preparation are cooking competitions in which participants prepare dishes using the respective contest ingredient. Each dish must meet a set of requirements that demonstrate kitchen skills and adhere to food safety standards. Recipes must also satisfy healthy eating guidelines.

The Oconee County Poultry Judging team placed seventh overall with additional members Colin Watson, Conner Watson and Blakely Stewart.

“Poultry production is Georgia’s No. 1 industry, and this contest introduces the importance of agriculture to hundreds of students every year,” said Sue Chapman, Georgia 4-H associate state leader. “County Extension offices are continuously creating opportunities for students to become informed poultry consumers and advocates.”

The contest is sponsored and coordinated by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the Poultry Science Association, National 4-H Council, and University of Kentucky Poultry Extension.

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships, and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 225,000 people annually through University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

Josie Smith is the public relations coordinator for Georgia 4-H.