After an almost undefeated eighth-grade basketball season, Adrian Austin made the cover of the Southern Illinois Junior High School Association State Tournament magazine for her performance in the all-star game. Sports were a huge part of her life. Less than two years later, she made a life-changing decision and gave up her basketball shoes to put on a navy blue corduroy jacket and get as involved as she could in the National FFA organization.
That decision altered her life in more ways than she imagined, taking her passion for the swine industry and livestock judging to the next level.
In fall 2013, after giving up basketball, she won her first national livestock judging contest – the 2013 American Royal 4-H contest in Kansas City, Mo. From that point on, she has been fortunate to achieve great success, including winning the National 4-H Contest at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky., the National Western Stock Show Junior College Contest in Denver, and most recently, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Senior College Contest in Houston.
She competed on the livestock judging team at Lincoln Land Community College where she obtained an associate in science degree. She’s now in the middle of her season at Kansas State University.
Austin’s not the only one in her family with a passion for livestock judging. Her parents met judging livestock at Lake Land College, then went on to compete at Western Illinois University. They’ve since coached numerous state and national champion 4-H teams. Her brother, Kane, recently completed his master’s degree at the University of Kentucky, where he coached the judging team. He now is an assistant coach at Lincoln Land Community College.
“Between showing pigs and judging livestock, my mom and dad always provided my brother and I every opportunity to be successful, even when it stretched their wallets and they weren’t sure how they would make it work,” she says. “They allowed us to chase our dreams and encouraged us to face challenges head on.”
Read Adrian's full story, "From Pigs to Politics."