We caught up with showmanship judge Sierra Meyers before she steps “Inside the Ring” at the NAILE. We invite you to read our candid interview with Sierra below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Inside the Ring – Showmanship Edition.”
How important are first impressions to you?
Absolutely, I believe first impressions are important. I love intense showmen, but I always want to see good sportsmanship in the ring. Obviously, we want to present ourselves and our animals to the best of our ability. I tell my students, that you have seven seconds to make a good first impression and another seven seconds to confirm or change that person’s impression of you, so when they enter the ring, we don’t need to crowd each other or cut people off. Be patient with peers, there are going to be a ton of us in the show ring. I would like to add that how people win or lose in the ring is equally important and that’s what I refer to as the last impression.
What age do you think is the hardest to judge? Why?
I would say across all species, the intermediate age (13-16) group is one of the most challenging because aside from that division having the largest classes at most shows, it’s the depth of talent you see from that age group. That’s when many showmen start to hone in on their style, ring awareness, and presence, they start to understand what their animal’s faults are, and how to show it out of them, and that age can be so intense. But I really do enjoy judging all ages, no matter the age, if a showman can get an animal stuck in an efficient manner yet be purposeful in their movements (for example: not constantly picking up a leg just to move it a 1/4 inch) that’s what I’ll be looking for and I know I’m going to see some serious talent at any age level on Friday.
Do you think switching sides often is crucial in showmanship?
Maybe some will say I’m a little old school about this, but I like to see exhibitors switch sides in showmanship. Now that doesn’t mean we need to jump back and forth switching sides if the judge is just trying to get a quick look of a certain view, but let’s say I line up a group in the middle of the ring and I stand on the left side, or I’m out in front of the sheep, then yes. Any movements should be as smooth and quiet as possible. And if a judge is stepping up to handle, and you’re on the same side, I encourage kids to wait until after the judge is done handling to switch so you can give them a good brace. I love seeing a showman who is intentional with every movement, not just going through the showmanship checklist.
Is there anything you may do when it’s down to the last few showmen?
In the past, I have had the final showmen do a few different scenarios to help me make a decision if it’s really really close, but at the end of the day, I will choose the showman who I felt was the most consistent. I will say, that having kids switch animals is probably my favorite tactic because a great showman can stick any animal. The kid in the barn who you send into the pen to stick sheep because they make them all look good.
What’s your life at home look like?
Currently, I live near Albany, Oregon, and just started my third year as the head livestock judging coach and an animal science instructor at Linn-Benton Community College, so like most college coaches, most of my time is spent in the judging van. But back home in the Central Valley of California, my mom runs cow-calf pairs, my dad and older brother have our farming operation, and my younger sister is an Associated Feed rep and raises club lambs with her husband. In reality, I think I spend more time living out of a suitcase than I do in my own house.
What’s one show you look forward to every year?
Since its inaugural year in 2020, I have been involved with the Revival Livestock Show in CA. It was started by two of my good friends, and they brought on a group of us who had all grown up showing livestock together to be a part of the team. Heading into its fifth year, the Revival has drawn stock show families from different parts of the country to the west coast and it’s now my favorite weekend in April. I would like to add that fifteen years ago I arrived in Louisville for the National 4H Livestock Judging contest, which was the first major stock show I had attended. The facilities, the quality, and the quantity of livestock was like nothing I had seen before. I love that colleges can bring teams to watch part of the show before the contest, giving some kids an opportunity to see a major for the first time. I am beyond humbled at the opportunity to get to judge on the green chips, this will be a day I will always remember.