If one or more of the young people in your life enjoy spending their afternoons and weekends evaluating cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, chickens or any of the other endless agricultural commodities out there, they may be a tad difficult to shop for. What can you buy your teenager or college student whose favorite things in life include "livestock judging" or "meat evaluation" or [insert other odd competitive event here]?
Fear not, though, there are many things that anyone who judges out there can appreciate that we guarantee that the judging kid in your life would be ecstatic to open during your gift exchange this holiday season! Check out our short list of some ideas:
1. Steno Pad(s)
They're the number one thing to have and the fastest thing a judging team member will go through: steno pads. The judging kid in your life will never stop learning, and can never have too many stenos, especially when one good practice or contest alone can take up nearly half of one! An extra is always good to have, too, especially if they get left behind in the ag room or in the showbox.
Fortunately, they are not too expensive. Office suppliers such as Office Depot and Staples sell them inexpensively, as low as $1.89 each (center photo), and they are even sold by the dozen both online and in stores.
If you're looking for something more on the livestock-style side that can be professionally personalized with names and designs, specialty shops such as the Stock Show Boutique and seller LittlebPrints on Etsy offer some livestock themed stenos and judging notebooks, like the Sorrel Judging Book (left/top photo) and judging notepads (right/bottom photo) offered in a variety of colors and styles from the Stock Show Boutique.
The steno is the most important thing to have during judging for most judging kids, but next in line for many are their clipboards. Pre-contest preparation and competition day can be stressful, and if one isn't organized while they judge, things can get hectic. A clipboard is a great way to keep organized, and there are many choices out there to make your judging kid stand out in the crowd and show off their style and brand on the big day.
Office suppliers such as Staples and Office Depot sell clipboards made out of wood, plastic (center photo) and metal in a variety of colors and sizes to keep things organized.
For those looking for some more style, lots of options for both girls and guys are available out there for an awesome look. Sellers on Etsy can be your friend, such as the cute gray and sea foam green monogrammed clipboard (left/top photo) from Etsy seller LimeRikeeDesigns for ladies, or the sleek silver personalized clipboard (right/bottom photo) for gentlemen from the Acrylic Idea Factory on Zazzle.
3. Mechanical Pencils
The perfect stocking stuffer. No judger out there wants to be the one crying out "I need a pencil!" during workouts or at a contest. Sadly, pencils are all too often loved and lost; in the car, at the fair, in jacket pockets, at school, and the list goes on. No judging kid can ever have enough! (Plus, they can also be used at school.)
Fortunately, mechanical pencils can be bought just about anywhere office supplies are sold, from Walmart to grocery stores, dollar stores, general stores and specialty shops. Amazon also offers some great deals this time of year on just about anything, plus many sellers offer stocking stuffers like these as inexpensive add-on items!
(Just make sure they are No. 2.)
4. Judging Manuals
Never stop learning. A statement instilled in the minds of many youth who are members of judging teams by their coaches and mentors. Lucky for them, there's plenty of resources out there to help, whether from workshops with the experts, online and multimedia resources or books and manuals. Many of these are developed by the professionals themselves, such as collegiate coaches and Extension faculty members.
E-books and .pdfs are awesome, but nothing can beat the feel of a traditional printed book or manual. Many universities and their Extension bookstores offer inexpensive and informative manuals that can be ordered and shipped in print that can be wrapped up as gifts, such as the National 4-H Poultry Judging Manual (center photo) from the UNL Marketplace and the Horse Judging Manual from the Purdue Extension Store (right/bottom photo).
For all the livestock judgers, JudgingPro.com also offers their own Livestock Judging Manual (left/top photo), perfectly sized and styled just like a steno packed full of information for just $12.50, including shipping.
5. Portable Phone Charger
Yes, it might be hard for all of the judging kids out there to go without their phones for the duration of a contest or during practice, but the rides in the car and waits to get results can be quite long, and nobody wants to be without their phone then! Judging contests may not be at shows that team members are exhibiting at or may be held under a pavillion, so sometimes there's nowhere or no one to leave your phone with to charge!
A portable phone charger can do the trick. These magical devices help power up the devices that we can't live without, and often can charge tablets too. Today, they're lightweight and inexpensive, too. Available for both iOS (left/top photo) and Android (right/bottom photo) devices, many portable phone chargers run between $9-$19.99 and can be bought from retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon, online or in-store.
For the judging kids who is also a diehard stock show kid, Sure Champ and ADM Animal Nutrition offer portable phone chargers for sale with the VitaFerm (center photo) and ShowTec logos, respectively, imprinted on them as well.
6. Ribbon/Award Racks
The pinnacle of a judging kid's career is having a room full of ribbons. Unfortunately there is no secret to winning 100 percent of the time, but when it happens, it sure feels sweet. Ribbons are a way to show off the achievements of one's judging career, whether they are from the county fair, the state contest or perhaps a national competition, and a ribbon display can help a judging kid feel proud of their accomplishments and show them off for others to see.
Though judging may not be as widespread as sports, yet, there's plenty of options out there for those looking for a ribbon display. TheOrginalRibbonRack.com offers several different types for sale, in colors both light and dark (right/bottom photo) that can be shipped to your door. They say you can buy just about anything on Amazon, and that's true here too, where Martin Metalworks LLC offers a sleek and simple metal ribbon holder (center photo). Etsy is also your friend, where displays such as the one featuring the 4-H clover (left/top photo) by Etsy Seller EverLast Designs are sold.
Perhaps you know a craftsman? A ribbon rack can be a great homemade gift from the heart, and can be personalized just for the special judging kid in your life.
7. Judging Camp
Camp isn't just for the summer anymore! In Florida, where our show season runs mainly from September to November and January to April, camps and workshops are held during the year and over the summer in Florida to help youth improve their judging skills. Camps and workshops are offered for livestock judging, horse judging and meats judging here in the Sunshine State and many are offered in other states. Not just a gift, but an experience for a familiar event or to try something new!
Coming up fast is the UF Horse Judging School on December 9, offered annually to help beginning and experienced horse judgers hone their skills. Later on for horses, UF also offers a Horse Judging Reasons School focusing just on reasons, to be held on March 10. After the holidays are the UF 4-H/FFA Livestock and Meats Judging Clinics, both to be held on January 12-13 during the season, and the 3rd Annual UF Livestock Judging Camp planned for the summer of 2018. Also for livestock judging are the UGA Livestock Judging Camp, held each summer in Athens, Ga. and the North Florida Livestock Judging Camp held during the summer in North Florida.
(For those with judging kids looking to take their skills to the next level or perhaps are looking for a fun trip outside of the Sunshine State, a list of out-of-state camps and their locations is published by Sure Champ each spring, this year's is linked for reference.)
8. New 4-H or FFA Jacket
'Nuff said. Much of the judging that the judging kid in your life will do is in their trusty FFA or 4-H jacket. Your judging kid wears their corduroy with pride as a member of their organization, but unfortunately they often wear out all too quick the more they are loved and lose that "new corduroy smell." Perhaps your judging kid holds a new officer position or has grown a bit since last year? Sized appropriately, a new 4-H or FFA jacket can be just the perfect fit for a gift!
Official FFA jackets are $55.00 each and can be ordered in either men's or women's cuts through Shop FFA. You will need your youth's FFA chapter number to order (ask the chapter advisor or look it up via the chapter locator on FFA.org), and the price includes shipping. Be sure to order by December 14 to ensure delivery by December 24! (Note that it is recommended to order one size up than the exact fit for FFA jackets as they are exact sizes and jackets do not stretch.)
4-H jackets are $49.95 each and can be ordered in both youth and adult sizes from Universal Lettering Company on ShowJacket.com. Note that 4-H jackets are sized slightly different than FFA jackets and can be embroidered with the state name, county, club or group name or left blank on the back and the price includes shipping. For 4-H, vests are also available to order.
Parents and other adults, we hope that this list can help make shopping for the judging kid in your life a little bit easier! Youth, did we miss anything? Is there anything related to judging that you would love to see underneath the tree this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!
By Abby Marion
Originally from Volusia County, Fla. Marion is a senior at the University of Florida majoring in agricultural communications. Though her judging days are over, she stays involved in the livestock industry as a college student. She currently works as a freelance agricultural communicator and hopes for a career in the agriculture industry.