Judges

2021 Judges

John Mrozinski, IN
Neal Knapp, IN
Rick Klampe, OR

Inside the Ring with Rick Klampe

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND CURRENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE SHEEP INDUSTRY?

My background includes raising several different breeds over my lifetime.  In 4-H I started out raising Southdowns and transitioned to Hampshires and continued with those through my FFA career.  I sold my sheep while attending college but paid for school by fitting Suffolks in the 1980’s for several influential breeders including Ben Huff, Gene Batie, Jack Larsen and Merle Stadeli.  In 1988 I began working with Polled Dorsets, first fitting for Fitch Ranch in 1988-89 and then serving as a consultant and fitter for Hamlin Polled Dorsets from 1990-94.  My dad and I started out on our own Polled Dorset venture in 1995 and I have been raising them ever since.

I have been a member of the Oregon Purebred Sheep Breeders Association serving two years as President in addition to two terms as Western Region Director of the Continental Dorset Club with one year as President.

Currently I only run 7 brood ewes with the goal of producing sheep that can win at the highest level of competition.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT JUDGING SHOWS? WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT JUDGING THE AAJS?

One of the things I enjoy most about judging shows is the opportunity to see sheep from different parts of the country that I don’t get an opportunity to evaluate on the west coast.  And of course, the chance to visit with the breeders to talk about production practices and challenges that we face.  I am excited to come to the AAJS since I have heard so much about it and the positive experience it provides the junior exhibitors.  I realize how these type of events can help shape the future leaders of our industry.

WHEN IT GETS DOWN TO THE TOP ENDERS, WHAT DO YOU SORT ON/WHAT TRAITS DO YOU VALUE MOST?

When it gets down to the top end at a large show I look for sheep that have some bells and whistles.  What I mean by that is a little extra something.  Maybe a sheep that is a better fronted, longer bodied, leveler hipped or has better breed type.  I value sound structured, growthy, long bodied sheep that have enough rib and muscle to be productive.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SHEEP THAT YOU’VE EITHER JUDGED OR SHOWN?

It has to be “Pearl Jam” our National Champion ewe at Louisville in 2016.  She was undefeated in class as a lamb and yearling.  As a yearling she was Champion at the California State Fair open show, Supreme Champion in both the open and junior show at the Oregon State Fair and Champion in both shows at Louisville. She has proven to be just as productive in the lambing barn.

WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT AN IDEAL SHOW SHEEP SHOULD POSSESS?

This list could go on forever but growing up Ben Huff was a major influence since I worked for him.  When I started raising Polled Dorsets I had many conversations with Gary Saylor and Evan Snyder that shaped my view of an ideal show ewe.

IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Competitive.

FAVORITE BAND/MUSICIAN?

Journey

IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE ON EARTH, WHERE AND WHY?

I have wanted to go to Australia for years to see how sheep are raised down there.  On the bucket list since I just retired.

Inside the Ring with Neal Knapp

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND CURRENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE SHEEP INDUSTRY?

In 1995, I started raising Montadales. I showed them extensively at the state and national level. After consulting for a Tunis farm in Massachusetts when I was living in Boston, I transitioned my farm over from Montadales to Tunis. We currently raise Tunis, Columbias, and commercial sheep. In addition to raising sheep, my career in research addresses animal husbandry and livestock genetics as well as the role that animals play in biotechnology.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT JUDGING SHOWS? WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT JUDGING THE AAJS?

I am excited to judge the All American for the same reason I enjoy judging shows. AAJS was the most influential show for me growing up. I showed in Franklin for many years before it started to rotate, so my show career was sort of a bridge between those two eras.

In judging, I enjoy playing a role in young showmen competing, learning, and growing. For me, AAJS is at the top of the list for youth shows in creating a competitive atmosphere while also providing opportunities to learn, spend time with family, and build relationships with other showmen from across the country.

It’s for that reason that I feel a responsibility to share my perspective on sheep and do my part in helping the show continue to have a positive and lasting impact on the next generation of showmen and producers.

WHEN IT GETS DOWN TO THE TOP ENDERS, WHAT DO YOU SORT ON/WHAT TRAITS DO YOU VALUE MOST?

I try to select for well-built sheep that are balanced and complete. When I get down to the top-end sheep, that is what I look for. At a show as competitive as AAJS, my ideal sheep would add a little show-ring appeal to those more practical priorities.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SHEEP THAT YOU’VE EITHER JUDGED OR SHOWN?

This is an easy one. I showed a Montadale ewe in 2003 named Princess. She was the best ewe I have ever shown, and she capitulated me as a showman and what we were trying to do with our sheep program. In addition to winning at AAJS, she went on to go undefeated at the state fairs and expositions in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Her success at NAILE was her crowning achievement. Honestly, everything I have done since, inside and outside the livestock industry, traces back to that ewe.

WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT AN IDEAL SHOW SHEEP SHOULD POSSESS?

Joyce Burnham

IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Eccentric

FAVORITE BAND/MUSICIAN?

Brandi Carlile

IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE ON EARTH, WHERE AND WHY?

I have a long list of new places I want to travel. Singapore is at the top of that list followed by Peru and South Africa. For a variety of reasons, but I find every travel experience to be an opportunity to relax and enjoy and also immerse and learn. I am particularly interested in food and agricultural traditions and systems that differ from what I grew up with.

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT AT A LIVESTOCK SHOW?

I won the overall breeding stock showmanship at the Indiana State Fair in 2001. The very next day, I showed some never-shown-before Columbias for Dave Bruner. He warned me about a fall ewe lamb that he said I could not show by myself. I arrogantly rejected his advice and tried to setup her back legs by myself—I was too impatient to wait for my foot setter—and she took off running over the fence and leaving me in the sawdust. I still have not forgotten this lesson!!