All’s Wool that Ends Wool

Tarleton wool judging team expresses excitement about upcoming season

The Tarleton Wool judging team is fresh from competition and excited for the season ahead.

The Tarleton Wool team is under advisory from Bailey Hooten as well as  assistant coaches Shayla Mcelroy and Noah Winters. 

“Wool judging consists of determining the quality of fleeces that have been sheared off of sheep. Individuals learn to identify factors that deem a fleece valuable, such as fiber thickness, staple length and the amount of usable wool after it is cleaned. Using this information, judges can then decide which fleeces are more valuable than others and how much they will sell when being put on the market in the wool industry,“ wool judging coach Bailey Hooten stated.

Hooten is a Angelo State University animal science degree graduate. During her time at ASU, she served on the wool judging team, obtaining two national championships and one intercollegiate championship. 

She then got her masters degree in animal science with a focus in reproductive physiology at Tarleton State University. She now teaches animal science related classes to students on the Stephenville campus. 

“After aiding with coaching other 4H (similar to FFA) and FFA teams throughout my collegiate career I was asked to help start a program at TSU as a part of my graduate school. I worked getting class materials together, gathering fleeces, and encouraging students to learn about wool,” Hooten stated.

Senior Agricultural Services and development major from Anna Texas, Noah Winters, is one of the assistant coaches for the 2021-2022 team as he was one of the top placing members of the team the year prior. 

“I chose to do wool judging right after finishing out livestock judging here at Tarleton State because I wanted to continue to test my judging and speaking skills competitively as well as gain my knowledge about the wool industry,” Winters stated.

The team consists of college agricultural students who have found a passion for judging. They travel the country in search of championship titles and have been to many schools and stock shows around the United States.

“We compete with universities from all across the nation. Most recently we’ve competed against Wyoming University, Kansas State, South Dakota State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and San Angelo University. Our next contest will be at the San Antonio Livestock and Rodeo Show,” Winters said.

Team members for the 2022 season include Jade Spencer, Kennah Shoaf, Abby Law, Anna West and Lauren Bower. 

“I chose wool judging with the intention of eventually judging livestock. Little did I know that it was about to open a whole new door for me. The experiences and friendships I have gained from being on the team are remarkable,” Shoaf stated.

“Since joining the team, I have gained extensive knowledge of the wool industry that I can apply to my future career as an Ag Teacher. I love being in the competitive atmosphere with my team. We constantly push each other to be better than we were before. I am super thankful for this opportunity & am excited to see what the future holds for our team,” Spencer stated.

Traveling with a team is a great bonding experience. For the Tarleton State University Wool Judging team this  is no different. 

The team arrived back to Tarleton on Jan. 15, but they did not leave Colorado empty handed. Placing second high team in the hand spinning fleece judging class and having three team members placing in the top ten.

“I am very proud of my team’s accomplishments. They become family to me and watching them succeed is almost as if I am succeeding myself. I love watching them grow as individuals and gain confidence as not only a wool judger, but also a competitor,” Hooten said.