The North American (NAILE) always marks the end of the show pig season.
Goodbyes at the NAILE were always sad because we knew we probably wouldn’t see our show friends again until Spring.
This year, however, was especially bittersweet because we had to say goodbye to one member of the “show family” for the next four years…Terry Burks.
Terry is an accomplished livestock judge and breeder who, along with his wife Alice, have taken on the new challenge of being missionaries to South-East Asia.
Terry and Alice will be teaching at a university and sharing their faith with people in the surrounding community.
There are many risks associated with their mission, but I know Terry will embrace the challenges and put his heart and soul into his work just like he has for years in working with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Division of Shows and Fairs.
For as long as I can remember, Terry has been a major part of Kentucky Junior Livestock Expos.
One minute he’d be running the livestock judging contest and the next he was grabbing a hurdle and jumping into the ring at the youth hog show.
Terry’s livestock judging clinics were a right of passage for Kentucky 4-H livestock judges. I honestly think that I’ve heard his reasons clinic so many times that I can recite it word for word!
Everyone knew his famous catchphrases: “Fat sheep go last, unless there’s a bone rack, then they’re third” or “Which heifer would you rather take to the prom, boys?”
Terry has a talent for entertaining an audience while explaining the most complex aspects of livestock judging in a way that even a 9 year old can understand.
Early in my livestock judging career, I struggled with evaluating market lambs. Terry took me back to a class I had placed nearly backwards and patiently guided me through evaluating each lamb until I began to understand.
To Terry, livestock shows were as much about the time spent hanging out at the pens as they were about what happens in the show ring.
He judged major shows across the country and always came back to entertain us kids with stories from his travels, some of which are so hilarious he retells them at almost every show.
He always took the time to ask us about life outside of showing.
In high school, we always kept him informed on what was going on in our lives, from my FFA and State 4-H livestock judging team travels to my friend John David’s football season.
I even remember him holding quite a few counseling sessions about our love lives, whether we wanted his advice or not.
As past State FFA Officer himself, Terry was one of the people who encouraged me to run for state office.
Terry went out of his way to be a mentor and friend to hundreds of youth livestock judges and showmen across Kentucky.
Working livestock shows wasn’t just a job to Terry, it was a passion.
I don’t know how we’ll ever have a Junior Expo without him but I know he’s passed on as much wisdom as he could to the next generation of showmen.
I want to wish Terry and Alice all the luck and blessings in the world as they embark on this new adventure.
If they put half as much passion into their mission work as they did into livestock shows, I know they’ll be successful!