INDIANAPOLIS — Morgan Tomson, a ten year 4-H member from Decatur County, capped her career in the best way possible, by taking home the Indiana State Fair Supreme Livestock Showman title August 10.
Tomson, who was awarded the Indiana FFA’s top honor, the State Star Farmer, at the state FFA convention in June, has been working with cattle her entire life and raising her own since age seven. Competing in showmanship contests is nothing new to her, but winning an award of such distinction is a unique experience.
Morgan qualified for the supreme showmanship competition after being declared the champion of the beef showmanship. For the supreme contest, Tomson had to drive three animals- swine, cattle and sheep, all of which she’d never worked with before.
Tomson said the sheep was a little uncooperative, made more so by the fact that she is very unfamiliar with that animal. The pig that she drove in the supreme contest was one of the display pigs at the state fair and had never been shown before. This made showing especially difficult for Tomson because the pig was completely unfamiliar with the reactions she required of it. She was extremely experienced with cattle showmanship and encountered no difficulties, even with an animal she’d never worked with prior to the competition.
It is possible for someone to win a showmanship competition even without a cooperative animal, as the contest judges the person’s composure and focus on presentation rather than the animal itself. Tomson won the champion title in the senior showman competition at the state fair last year, making her win this year all the more special because it’s been a long while since the same person won senior showman two years in a row.
“It was really an honor to win senior showman, and now I’ve won it two years in a row. That hasn’t happened for a long time. So it was really cool for me. When you go up for senior showman, everyone is really good. There isn’t a bad showman out there, especially at the state level,” Tomson said.
Tomson’s senior showmanship win secured her a coveted spot in the supreme showmanship competition. She was up against five other competitors, two from each breed of showmanship – cattle, swine and sheep. Morgan said all of the other supreme showmen were extremely talented.
After she was declared the winner in the supreme competition, Morgan said she was, “Completely shocked. I didn’t know how to react and then I saw how happy my parents were. I looked over and saw my mom with tears in her eyes and just thought, ‘Oh, goodness.’ So that was really neat.”
While winning the supreme showman title was new to Morgan, she was no stranger to the Indiana State Fair, having competed there for all of her ten years in 4-H. Through her time in 4-H and showmanship wins at the county level, Morgan was able to compete in the Tom Swain showmanship contest at the Decatur County Fair, which gave her some experience with sheep and swine, though she wasn’t nearly as familiar with them as she is with cattle, the sheep even less so than the swine. Tomson said she will continue showing cattle for as long as possible, even though she is no longer in 4-H.
“My sisters still have quite a few years left and I can still show at junior shows until I’m 21. So that is something I will always pursue.”
Morgan said her experience in FFA and her Supervised Agricultural Experience, has had a massive impact on her showmanship. “In FFA, you learn a lot about your species and how to work well with that species, as well as a little about the others.”
Now that she has quite the collection of distinctive state honors with her FFA State Star Farmer and Indiana State Fair champion awards for senior and supreme showman, Tomson is optimistic about her future in the agriculture industry.
“Agriculture can be kind of looked down on sometimes. Really, we are just trying to feed America and the world. It is wonderful to be part of an industry that has such a global impact and very humbling to look back and see what I’ve accomplished.”
When asked how she felt about ending her 4-H career with such a big win, Tomson said, “I’m really kind of sad that it’s over. You realize afterward how much time you’ve put into it over the years. I’m truly honored that I was able to compete at the state and national levels and do as well as I have.”
Tomson will be attending Purdue University in the fall, majoring in Animal Science and Agribusiness. After graduation, Morgan plans to secure a position at an animal pharmaceutical company.
Morgan credits her parents at her biggest inspiration and one of the driving forces that led her to work so hard in the cattle industry before she even graduated high school.
“My parents have been my biggest inspiration. They’ve always pushed me to do my best in everything. My work with cattle has given me so much responsibility. For years, I’ve gotten up early and fed the animals and done other farm chores. Now, at college, I won’t have to do any of that, just get up and go to class.”
Tomson said she was grateful for the example her parents set for her and the responsibility they gave her growing up because it led to her knowing what will be expected of her in life and her future in the agriculture industry. Because of the opportunities and experience she’s received through her early years, Morgan Tomson has turned her passion for cattle into what looks to be a lucrative and successful career as an adult.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004