Powell Shoshone FFA’s wool judging team finds success in Laramie

I just want everyone to find a home and through that our chapter can do that and my team can do that. 

More stories from Emma Brence

December 21, 2023

Photo Courtesy of Shannon Darrough

Powell Shoshone FFA’s Wool Judging team stands for a picture after receiving the Reserve Champion team title.

On Jan. 9-10, Powell Shoshone FFA’s wool judging team traveled to Laramie to compete at the 7220 Wool Judging Contest. The team consists of junior Brooke Bessler, junior Emma Brence, senior Allison Morrison and sophomore Katie Morrison.

“I think that for our team’s second competition we rocked it,” Allison Morrison said.  “I am very proud of us girls, and that we stuck with a competition we didn’t know much about.” 

Katie Morrison placed 4th high in reasons, Brence placed 5th high in reasons, 1st high in placings and 3rd overall. The team also took Reserve Champion in the senior category.

“I think as a team we can all work on the rail aspect of the competition,” Allison Morrison said. “When attending the competition at the end, during awards, Whit Stewert [UW Wool judging coach] mentioned that 90% of what college teams work on is the rail. Of course we can all improve our reasons skills, knowing how to talk classes is always important.”

Wool judging competitions have three parts. Every contestant must place six classes of breeding or commercial fleeces and give two sets of reasons. The competition also has a grading rail which consists of fleeces that each competitor has to judge against each other, and as individual fleeces for their quality and quantity of clean wool.

“The team worked diligently and showed dedication towards their judging,” Agriculture teacher and advisor Mrs. Shannon Darrough, said. “Wool judging is something that is not new but is making a comeback.”

The team worked diligently and showed dedication towards their judging.

— Shannon Darrough

The team is coached by Environmental and Natural Resources science Teacher Mrs. Wendy Smith. Mrs. Smith is a sheep and wool producer.

Coaching the wool team is fun and rewarding,” Mrs. Smith said. “I didn’t know much about wool judging until about 6 years ago and really haven’t practiced much so I am learning too and have some pretty amazing helpers throughout the state that are willing to train me and the wool team”

While attending the competition the team was able to gather new skills and learn how to improve their abilities for their future endeavors. 

These competitions are definitely using public speaking skills,” Bessler said. “This will help us in the future to be more confident in interviewing and other occasions that speaking one on one or in small groups is necessary.” 

The skills used in Career Development events (CDE) are also beneficial for other projects in FFA and life

“I know that I can see myself pursuing a career in wool,” Allison Morrison said. “Seeing as how much there is to learn about wool, these competitions are letting us handle fleeces and work as a team.”