The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Grady grad national champion meat judge


November 18, 2018

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. — A 2016 Grady High School graduate went from judging meat as a kid in 4-H and FFA to last week becoming a national champion in the field.

Koby Valentine, a junior at Texas Tech University who grew up between Clovis and Melrose, was named reserve grand champion last week at the 2018 American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Nebraska.

Valentine said there were over 100 students from 19 universities nationwide taking part in the competition.

“It’s a great honor and humbling experience. Pretty much any university in the United States can compete in that so that’s a pretty big achievement and I thought it was just good to represent my coaches and everybody at Texas Tech University,” Valentine said.

“That was the best part about it, just showing that my university, we do a lot of good things in academics and train really good people.”

For those not familiar with the activity, Valentine said a meat judging competition consists of analyzing protein products to determine what would bring the most money for producers and what would be most beneficial for consumers in the U.S. and abroad.

“With the growing world population and higher need for protein, it’s really a big deal on how we can improve meat products and grow the industry,” Valentine said.

Tasked with placing beef, lamb and pork carcasses by quality, assigning yield grades and determining if the products are eligible for export trade, Valentine said the collegiate meat judging competitions are a bit more intensive than the work he did in 4-H and FFA identifying different types of retail cuts.

“It’s totally different, it’s very simple (in 4-H and FFA). But when I came to Texas Tech University I saw the judging teams here really work hard to go out and win and be excellent and win national championships, so I decided I want to try it and be part of that,” Valentine said.

Valentine, who also played basketball and baseball and ran track at Grady, told The News that meat judging at TTU is a student organization that’s widely viewed as an academic activity.

He said the competition is also just a great way to meet people with the same interests, no pun intended.

“It’s a really great opportunity to meet students from other schools and meet people in a growing industry in the U.S. and the global scene as well, so that was really neat just to get out and meet people who are experts in their fields,” Valentine said.


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