Quality Counts: Clay Weber contributes his ag expertise to LBCC
For Clay Weber, the weekends are a time for responsibilities. They can be filled with organizing practices for his livestock judging team, or traveling to another contest across the country to have his team of young men and women compete in collegiate livestock judging contests.
As an instructor, Agriculture Science Department Chair, livestock judging coach, husband, father, and livestock producer, Weber has many duties that require his attention. Yet, teaching and coaching at LBCC has made him a key figure to the Agriculture Department.
Originally, Weber was from a small town in California. Although he was a competitive wrestler in high school and could have pursued the sport in college, he turned his eyes to another passion of his: livestock judging. He attended Modesto Junior College (MJC) in California where he competed in numerous co-curricular livestock judging contests throughout the country that required him to rank livestock based on industry standards and then present oral reasons on his placings.
After his success at MJC, he transferred to Oklahoma State University to earn his degree in animal science and continue his livestock judging career. Weber found his edge for coaching livestock judging teams, taking on his first team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo while working for his master’s in general agriculture. After earning his master’s, he coached at MJC for a semester, then moved on to work for a feed company.
Years later, Weber found a new adventure.
“I don’t know how or why, but I learned about a teaching position and coaching spot at LBCC,” said Weber.
In the summer of 2001, Weber came up to LBCC for an interview for the job. Sixteen years later, Weber has built a life here. He originally planned on staying five years and returning to his home in California. “My wife and I just thought this was too good of an area. I think this is a high-quality place to live. We had our first son here, who is now 13, and our other son is 9,” said Weber. He is now the chair for the Agriculture Science Department, on top of still coaching the livestock judging team, teaching several classes, and raising show sheep.
Rick Klampe, who has played a critical role coaching the livestock judging team as well, even before Weber came, works well with him.
“Weber and I balance each other out well,” said Klampe. They coach the team together, however, usually only one coach takes the team to contests throughout the country at a time. “We each have our contests that we take the team to, and I will cover for Weber and help him out when he goes on the trip, as he does for me.”
Klampe has worked alongside Weber for sixteen years now and has come to realize that Weber is a key figure to the program.
“I don’t want to know what it would be like without him. I have always appreciated his commitment and dedication to his students and the program here. He provides positive experiences,” said Klampe.
Students also are appreciative of Weber. Emmitt White, both student and livestock judging team member, is one of the many individuals learning under Weber. “Weber is a very effective teacher. In my swine production class, he is very knowledgeable about the topic and is always open to help if needed,” said White.
As a livestock judging coach, White has a lot of respect for Weber as well.
“His competitive spirit sets the bar high and motivates us to do well and represent our school well,” said White.
In Weber’s livestock judging class, the students seem very engaged and attentive. They focus on what he is teaching them and apply his lessons to their practice. Weber throws in humor into his lectures, but more importantly, he values every learning opportunity for his students.
“We work together for the same cause, and that’s to have a competitive livestock judging team and learn as much about livestock as we can,” said Weber.
Meghan King, former LBCC student and former livestock judging team member, recalls nothing but positive and fond memories of having Weber as a coach and instructor.
“My junior and senior year in high school is when I remember him recruiting me and checking in after contests we would go to and congratulating us,” said King. “He convinced me to come visit LBCC and check out the livestock judging program. Between him and Klampe, I was convinced that it was something I should be a part of and something I wouldn’t regret.”
Even through the challenges of training and competing at national contests throughout the country, King still was encouraged to do her best.
“He took time out of his schedule to work with our team and was always making sure we truly saw why livestock classes were placed the way they were and understanding the current trends in the livestock industry,” said King.
King was a member of the 2015-2016 LBCC Livestock Judging Team that found a lot of success during their season, placing sixth overall as a team at the national championship in Louisville and fourth overall team at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
“He is passionate about judging and livestock and to be coached by someone who is like that is so rewarding. He is always there for you. The name Clay Weber is known and respected all around the country,” said King.
Fresh out of university, Weber had found his love for coaching and teaching.
“What I love about LBCC is that it gives Rick and I an opportunity to get to know students and build relationships with them,” said Weber. “As my mom said, these are some of the best years of my life right now, watching my kids grow up and being involved, plus coaching, teaching, and getting to raise sheep. I can do all those things here.”
Story and Photo by Juan Gavette