FFA students examine four lambs during the Ruby Valley Invitational on Tuesday, September 25. Competitors had to rank the animals from 1-4 and give oral presentations before judges of the reasons why (R. Colyer photos).FFA competitors from Belgrade and Cascade evaluate cattle during the Ruby Valley Invitational in Sheridan on Tuesday, September 25. Students had to rank the animals from 1-4 and also give the reasons behind their rankings.FFA competitors from Belgrade and Cascade evaluate cattle during the Ruby Valley Invitational in Sheridan on Tuesday, September 25. Students had to rank the animals from 1-4 and also give the reasons behind their rankings.

Sheridan hosts Ruby Valley FFA Invitational

Students from across Montana competed in Tuesday’s event

SHERIDAN—It’s not common to encounter nearly 500 middle and high school students and have them all be completely silent, but that was the scene for much of Tuesday morning, September 25, at the 47th annual Ruby Valley Invitational, which drew students from Ronan to Colstrip and everywhere in between. 

Each September, the Ruby Valley FFA and its alumni host the invitational—one of the largest and oldest in the state. This year’s event included competitions in livestock evaluation, soils and range evaluation and forestry. 

“This is what we call a district level competition, but it doubles as our invitational,” says Sheridan agriculture education and FFA instructor Rodney Braaten. “There’s a state convention in the springtime and then winners from state-level contests go on to nationals.”

Braaten has been the FFA instructor at Sheridan Schools for 12 years, and identifies FFA as a great way for his students to use in a practical, real-life setting the concepts they learn in the classroom.

“A lot of these guys have been going over livestock or range or forestry as part of their classes,” says Braaten. “Then they can come here and test what they’ve learned.”

The event is pulled together almost entirely by volunteers, down to the ranchers who supply their animals to be evaluated and judged by students preparing for careers in farming, ranching and veterinary medicine, among other disciplines.

Kristen Swenson is the president of the Montana FFA Alumni Association. A Dillon native who now lives in Manhattan, she grew up coming to this event.

“It wasn’t nearly this big when I was competing,” Swenson remembers. “It’s grown so much over the years. It’s a complete judging experience for the students.”

What Swenson means by that is that the competitors at Tuesday’s event were asked not only to rank the animals they were seeing, but also to go one step further: writing down their rationale of why they ranked them the way they did, then defending that reasoning orally before a judge.

Students were divided into groups of around 15 for the Ruby Valley Invitational, then placed at a variety of stages around the arena. 

At one, they took a written exam. At another they judged the four market lambs in the pen before them. At another, heifers, or pigs, or goats. One station even had a wide variety of veterinarians’ tools, which the students had to identify based on multiple choice options given for each foreign-looking contraption.

Each station had a time limit of around 10 minutes, and competitors couldn’t talk to one another as they worked. But the atmosphere was tense and focused as they examined animals, filled out their exam sheets or prepared for their turn in front of the judges.

The Ruby Valley Invitational offered individual and team awards in both the junior and senior categories for livestock evaluation, soil and range evaluation and forestry classes.

Area results, Ruby Valley FFA Invitational


Individual Range Results (Junior)

• Luke D’Vorak, Ruby Valley, 2

• Ruby Rossiter, Ruby Valley, 3

• Ayla Janzen, Twin Bridges, 4

• Cash Atkinson, Beaverhead, 5

• Ellianna Meekna, Twin Bridges, 6

• Jesica Masshardt, Ruby Valley, 9

• Amanda Millhouse, Twin Bridges, 12


Team Range Results (Junior)

• Ruby Valley, 1

• Twin Bridges, 3

• Beaverhead, 6


Individual Range Results (Senior) 

• Isaac Bendon, Ruby Valley, 10

• Brooke Mehlhoff, Twin Bridges, 16

• Kenna Millhouse, Twin Bridges, 17

• Amanda Grow, Ruby Valley, 22

• Harleigh Johnson, Beaverhead, 24

• Hunter Bockting, Beaverhead, 25

• Logan Miller, Beaverhead, 26

• Sydney Hopkins, Three Forks, 30

• Brayden Hankinson, Beaverhead, 32


Team Range Results (Senior)

• Ruby Valley, 2

• Twin Bridges, 9

• Beaverheaad, 10

• Three Forks, 11


Individual Forestry Results

• Tyler Haag, Ruby Valley, 13

• Cade McParland, Ruby Valley, 21

• Trent Wahl, Beaverhead, 26

• Dylan Johnson, Beaverhead, 32

• Dustin Hopkins, Three Forks, 36

• Jack Gilman, Ruby Valley, 39

• Noah Caldwell, Ruby Valley, 42

• Henry Sutton, Ruby Valley, 46

• Taylor Westfall, Beaverhead, 47

• Taylor Lenegar, Beaverhead, 52

• Forrest Wagoner, Beaverhead, 54

• Chase Lutgen, Ruby Valley, 55

• Jesse Eide, Three Forks, 56

• Kalyton Kotter, Three Forks, 67


Team Forestry Results

• Ruby Valley, 4

• Beaverhead, 7

• Three Forks, 14


Individual Livestock Results (Junior) 

• Kaiden Batzler, Ruby Valley, 1

• Zane Carter, Twin Bridges, 4

• Samuel Konen, Twin Bridges, 9

• Tyler Pancost, Twin Bridges, 11

• Pablo Babcock, Twin Bridges, 12

• Glynn Strauser, Ruby Valley, 13

• Faith Larsen, Ruby Valley, 14

• Bradyn Martin, Ruby Valley, 21

• Jorien Verhow, Ruby Valley, 22

• Asher Voss, Beaverhead, 26

• Katie Vanslyke, Beaverhead, 29

• Lane Poirier, Ruby Valley, 30

• Colby Caldwell, Ruby Valley, 34

• Caitlyn Geiger, Ruby Valley, 43

• Kyle Pancost, Twin Bridges, 45

• Hayleigh Frazier, Beaverhead, 50

• Allie Dale, Twin Bridges, 52

• Chris Fraser, Twin Bridges, 53

• Jeff Klompien, Three Forks, 54

• Dmitri Abbott, Ruby Valley, 57

• Brooke Grow, Ruby Valley, 59

• Emma Konen, Twin Brides, 61

• Taylor Smith, Twin Bridges, 62

• Kox McDougal, Ruby Valley, 68

• Dakota Abbey, Beaverhead, 77

• Daisy Rhodes, Beaverhead, 78

• Cheyenne Caan, Three Forks, 91

• Calla Donnelly, Three Forks, 94

• Trevor Davis, Three Forks, 96

• Michael Galiger, Ruby Valley, 100

• Tate Hanson, Beaverhead, 107

• Kaleigh Caldwell, Ruby Valley, 108

• Jake Dvorak, Ruby Valley, 117

• Abi Tersen, Three Forks, 127

• Tiffany McWilliams, Beaverhead, 134

• EJ Puckett, Twin Bridges, 136

• Austin Schuett, Beaverhead, 138

• Cade Cathey, Ruby Valley, 143

• Mutien Paglinawan, Beaverhead, 148


Team Livestock Results (Junior)

• Twin Bridges, 1

• Ruby Valley, 2

• Beaverhead, 7

• Three Forks, 14


Individual Livestock Results (Senior)

• Trenton Braaten, Broadwater, 1

• Kadyn Braaten, Broadwater, 3

• Taylor Noyes, Broadwater, 8

• Jyler Thompson, Broadwater, 9

• Maggie Whitehurst, Madison Co., 13

• Coleman Gilman, Ruby Valley, 24

• Ayden Anderson, Twin Bridges, 27

• Grace Larsen, Ruby Valley, 30

• Alfred Peterson, 34

• Raelynn Hagan, Three Forks, 35

• Malcolm Peterson, Beaverhead, 38

• Kenzee Fabel, Ruby Valley, 40

• Kole Chatriand, Broadwater, 41

• Desaray Tipton, Ruby Valley, 44

• JH Sigman, Beaverhead, 49

• Madison Fabel, Ruby Valley, 50

• Hunter Probst, Beaverhead, 59

• Colton Noyes, Broadwater, 62

• Hemi Ervin, Three Forks, 72

• Cody Scot, Ruby Valley, 73

• Sofy DuPond, Ruby Valley, 79

• Tate Raymond, Beaverhead, 81

• Molly Woodward, Broadwater, 82

• Dylan Kamps, Three Forks, 87

• Zeke Ellis, Beaverhead, 94

• Ashleigh Guinnane, Twin Bridges, 95

• Taylor Rochford, Three Forks, 96

• Kaleb Smail, Ruby Valley, 99

• Kirstin Klompien, Three Forks, 104

• Tristen Setzer, Beaverhead, 106

• Enola McDonald, Three Forks, 107

• Kaleb Probst, Beaverhead, 115

• Tylee McDonald, Broadwater, 116

• Kash Kemph, Beaverhead, 118

• Delilah Puckett, Twin Bridges, 121

• Jason Chisolm, Ruby Valley, 128


Team Livestock Results (Senior)

• Broadwater, 1

• Ruby Valley, 7

• Beaverhead, 9

• Three Forks, 15

• Twin Bridges, 21

• Madison Co., 26

• Three Forks, 30

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