Shults honored for 25 years of livexstock judging coaching

Clint Shults, center, was honored as Leader of the Year last Thursday at the Meeker 4-H Achievement Night. Shults has coached dozens of 4-Hers to great success in livestock judging competitions during the last 25 years. LANDON SMITH/SAY YES WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO
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MEEKER | Clint Shults, Rio Blanco County 4-H Livestock Judging Coach of 23 years (25 total) was honored last Thursday as Leader of the Year at the Meeker 4-H Achievement night. Shults began his judging career in 1983 in Texas, moved back to Meeker in 1984 under the direction of Brent Smith and continued on to the University of Wyoming Meats Judging team in 1989, Meat Animal Evaluation team in 1990 and finally the Livestock Judging team in 1990.

His passion for coaching began in 1994 when Gary Small, retired director of the Colorado 4-H Foundation and at the time Laramie County 4-H Extension Agent approached him about coaching the Livestock Judging team in Cheyenne, Wyo. By the second year they won the state competition and continued on to the national contest in Louisville, Ky., with his supportive wife and a 7-month-old daughter on her first national judging trip. Later, that same daughter, MacLaine Shults, would go on to be a part of two state reserve teams, the 2011 National FFA Roundup Championship team, the 2011 Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland, second and third American Judging team and on the 2016 National Championship team for Texas Tech. Her little sister Madi Shults was on the 2015 State Championship 4-H team, the 2013 Colorado FFA Reserve Team and was the Colorado 4-H High Individual Overall Livestock Judge two times counting. She was also on her Junior College’s National Championship team and was a Colorado 4-H All-State Judge six impressive times. Of course that’s only the beginning of a successful legacy for coach Shults as he continues to coach his youngest daughter Marryn and younger son Hayden here in Rio Blanco County. With just a glimpse of his children’s accomplishments, much less the titles and accolades of his “adopted” kids, Shults has brought home so far a total of three state championships, four reserve state championships, several national placings, at least 17 accepted full-ride college scholarships to NJC, Casper, LCCC, South Plains, Hutchinson, Redlands, CSU, UW, TTU, TAMU and too many worn out tires and tapes of Willy Nelson and Merle Haggard to count. Shults has had an incredible impact on the youth of Rio Blanco County during the last 23 years and has been a driving force for many former judges to succeed in their adult lives with the skills he’s helped them foster through the program.

“The profound impact you have left on your former students runs deep. Because of you, we learned how to communicate effectively and believe in ourselves.  You taught us how to think logically, defend our thought process, but most importantly how to work hard, remain dedicated and appreciate the little things in life. No matter what obstacles we stumble upon in life, we know we can always make it back up in reasons.” Kyle Vaughn, former RBC Livestock Judge.

“Clint has impacted the lives of so many of us that have gone through his program. From fostering a passion for livestock, improving our public speaking skills to learning all the best barbecue joints around the country. He and his family have sacrificed and put on so many miles over the years to watch us succeed—I am forever grateful!” Stacy (Fitzgibbons) Etchemendy, former RBC Livestock Judge.

“Clint had faith in me when I often had little to no faith in myself.  Not just in livestock judging but other parts of life as well.  Clint was a role model to me growing up and he played a large part in helping teach me important life skills such as work ethic, self-confidence, decision making and overcoming my fear of speaking in front of others. I could sing all day long in front of people but public speaking caused me great fear and anxiety. Clint’s constant reassurance and coaxing helped me come out of my public speaking shell,” Roxie (Long) Fromang, former RBC Livestock Judge.

“Through his unwavering commitment and personal sacrifice, he transformed us into respectable young adults, with incredible potential for the future. Without doubt, I can say Clint and Tera played an integral role in helping me achieve the success I have been blessed with. He taught me confidence, teamwork, individual strength, public speaking, and the value of never giving up… and for this, I say ‘thank you’!” Katelin (Waldref) Cook, former RBC Livestock Judge.

Congratulations to coach Shults, and here’s to another 25 years of keeping it simple, freshly starched jeans, diet Cokes and a smile and George Strait’s “Big Balls in Cowtown” blasting over the stereo as you head out on the road for one more season, one more contest and one more young adult growing up to appreciate their time spent with an incredible 4-H leader like you.

By Emma Vaughn | Special to the Herald Times