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From right ot left are Liam Steward, Waylon Paulek, Drew Mickey, Executive Director of the Royal Highland Show in Scotland, Lizzie Schafer, Cole Paulek, and Audrey Curtin
The Taylorville FFA Livestock Judging Team has had a long track record of success, but a world title they acquired this summer may be the greatest of them all. On June 22, six team members accompanied by two chaperones, traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to enjoy a two week adventure around Scotland, Ireland, and London. Team members included Cole Paulek, Waylon Paulek, Liam Steward, Audrey Curtin, Drew Mickey, and Lizzie Schafer in addition to their chaperones, Julie Fugate and Katie Paulek. This trip encompassed building new friendships, gaining knowledge surrounding agriculture in the United Kingdom, and above all – a world championship. That is right, a world championship. At the Royal Highland Show, Waylon Paulek and Drew Mickey teamed up to win the contest. Audrey Curtin and Liam Steward also brought home hardware, placing third in the contest. “The opportunity to travel overseas was so exciting within itself, but to go the extra mile and be able to win the contest with Drew was something very special to me and our team,” says Waylon. The team’s expedition started in Edinburgh, Scotland, with the Royal Highland Show and a tour of the city. After the show was completed, the sightseeing was in full swing. The team traveled to see the Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel, and St. Andrews, home of the British Open and the birthplace of golf. The next day they continued on to visit Lurgan Farms and Netherton Angus, both farms giving eye opening experiences to Scottish agriculture and beautiful views for miles! Audrey Curtin’s favorite experience of the trip was in Scotland. “Aside from our team’s success in the judging contest I thought the Scottish Highland cattle were really intriguing to me as well as the Netherton Angus farm. My family farm has always raised and shown Angus cattle so seeing how their herd compared to ours and their different operation practices was really interesting, as well as seeing the shaggy Highland’s that aren’t very common in our area.”
Upon their departure from Scotland, the team traveled to Ireland via ferry. Ireland’s first day included visiting a dairy farm which converted liquid manure into biodiesel fuel, and showcased Ireland’s agriculture sustainability. Then, the team made their way into Dublin to shop and eat downtown, as well as visit Christ Church Cathedral. Additionally, farm visits continued with Holland Angus Farm and a major livestock auction, Kilkenny Mart. Ireland was concluded with visits to the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, and the Clonmel Show where members competed in an Irish judging competition and once again came out on top in multiple classes of the day..
For the grand finale of this once in a lifetime trip, the team took off to London, England. The day and a half in London included sightseeing of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Big Ben, British Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and a viewing of Wicked at the Apollo Victorian Theatre.
This trip was an incredible opportunity for all involved. The Taylorville FFA Livestock Judging Team received support from many local businesses, community members, and organizations right here in Taylorville as well as throughout the state and Midwest. Continued community support, three outstanding advisors, two great chaperones, and the continued work ethic of this team is what made this amazing trip possible! Team coach, Sue Schafer, was incredibly proud of the team and their accomplishments. “The team earned this opportunity by being named reserve national champions at the National Western Roundup in Denver last January.. This led to the team being able to go overseas and reap the harvest of their hard work they put into livestock judging. Our community continues to support us in every way possible and we are grateful for that.” The friendships, memories, and ideas made on this trip will last a lifetime for these FFA members. Not to mention the added scholarship money coming from this will greatly benefit them in their future careers. What an incredible trip for the Taylorville FFA Chapter!
Shown below are Liam Steward, Audrey Curtin, Drew Mickey, Cole Paulek, Waylon Paulek, and Lizzie Schafer