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Myakka teens to compete at national cattlemen’s convention

MYAKKA CITY — Myakka teens will be making a trek to San Antonio, Texas, to compete for national awards during the 2010 Cattle Industry Convention and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show later this month.

“We’re competing in Team Marketing and Quiz Bowl,” said Clinton Thum, 17, a student at Lakewood Ranch High School who also attends a Manatee Technical Institute program.

He and others planning to go are members of the Manatee County Junior Cattlemen’s Association, affiliated with the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association.

More than 5,000 people involved in the cattle industry are expected to attend the convention and trade show slated for Jan. 25-30, according to the group’s Web site. The annual event is the largest cattle industry event in the country, it said.

Thum and Courtney Wingate, 14, also of Myakka, have qualified to compete in a team marketing competition at the national convention.

The Manatee County teens plan to give a slide show about a cow for sale. Accompanying them will be Samantha Newman, of Hillsborough County.

“We call ours ‘Carolina,’ ” Thum said of the theoretical beast.

The presentation describes the heifer and attempts to convince a potential buyer to make the purchase. The youths won a similar competition during the state cattlemen’s convention, which qualified them to compete at the national level.

Thum is also planning to compete in a version of Quiz Bowl, similar to the television show “Jeopardy,” in which contestants must answer questions about beef correctly.

“I’m studying right now for Quiz Bowl. I’ve got a book sitting in front of me with questions from past years,” said Thum.

Among the questions will be head-scratchers about nutrition, general management practices for ranchers and other germane topics, said Thum.

He, Wingate and others also plan to participate in livestock judging, in which they look for hallmarks of healthy animals.

“We go in behind the judge, and try to make the same answers he did,” explained Thum about the competition.

A good animal is sturdily built, is graced with enough fat to make its meat tasty, and stands on feet that are well-formed, said Thum.

“It’s a useful business skill to have,” he noted of the ability to correctly judge the quality of livestock.

In addition to Thum and Wingate, others going to the convention include Clinton’s brother, Chisom Thum; and Casey and Clay Wingate, Courtney’s siblings.

The junior cattlemen will be accompanied by parents Stephen and Cindy Kersey Thum; Gene and Tamara Wingate; and Donna and H. Cully Rowell, a rancher and president of the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association.

Rowell was proud of the Myakka youngsters who will represent Florida at the national convention.

The junior group was formed in 2000, he said.

“Ever since, they’ve won every state competition at least once,” he added.

One point of unfinished business is that the association and the teens are still trying to raise money in order to help pay expenses of the trip, Rowell said. Donations are welcome, he emphasized.

Meanwhile, Courtney Wingate is anxious to get on the plane.

“I’m very excited to go. I can’t believe we’re going; I’ve never been to Texas,” she said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031 or at skennedy@bradenton.com.

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