Wyoming 4-H members claimed top honors at the 2023 National Western Stock Show in Denver, earning the titles Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion in the 2023 Catch-A-Calf exhibition this month.
Rowan Wasinger, a member of Johnson County 4-H in Buffalo, claimed the title Grand Champion and Lane Sinclair of Albany County was named Reserve Champion.
For both champions, the recognition was the culmination of a year of hard work, visible not only in their beaming smiles and award plaques but in the top-quality steers they showed on Jan. 8 in the Denver Coliseum.
“It shows that kids doing this care about their learning experience and want to be successful,” said Johnathan Despain, state 4-H program coordinator. “It’s a reflection of where they are going in life and a public example of what happens on a day-to-day basis in our program.”
A total of nine Wyoming youth participated in the 2022-2023 Catch-A-Calf program, which is open to active 4-H and FFA members ages 14-18 who are residents of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming.
Since its inception in 1935, the NWSS Catch-A-Calf program has worked with sponsors to purchase nearly 3,000 calves awarded to youth across the western U.S. Participants are judged not only on the steer’s production and carcass quality, but also showmanship, record books, and a personal interview.
Wasinger and Sinclair officially began their Catch-A-Calf experience in January 2022, when they first “caught” their calves in a rodeo performance.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Wasinger commented. “You meet so many people, including from other states. I also learned life skills, like setting goals and budgeting for a year.”
As grand champions, Wasinger and Sinclair sold their steers at the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions, held on the final Friday of the show.
NWSS regulations dictate that participants can only compete in the Catch-A-Calf contest once. But, as many former competitors can attest, the program fosters lasting connections, bringing together youth across the western region and creating family traditions that span generations.
Wasinger welcomes her new role as mentor to the next wave of Catch-A-Calf participants. “I’d love to see more kids go out for Catch-A-Calf,” she said. “Participating at the national level versus county or state changes your perspective and pushes you to do better.”
To learn more about the NWSS Catch-A-Calf program, visit https://bit.ly/nwss-catch-a-calf. For more information on Wyoming 4-H programming, visit https://bit.ly/wy-4-H.