The Ohio State University Livestock Evaluation Leader and Livestock Judging Coach, Hank LeVan, understands the importance of the Livestock Judging Team to Ohio State. However, his background and experience have prepared him for continuing the team’s long-standing tradition of success.
LeVan grew up on a diversified livestock enterprise in Woodstock, OH, consisting of Show Cattle, Standardbred Racehorses, and Quarter Horses with his parents Dr. Louis LeVan, DVM, and his mother Melissa. At age 10, when LeVan was old enough to join 4-H, his father surprised him with a Shorthorn Steer. According to LeVan, “When I looked over the horse stall railing, I saw a roan Shorthorn steer calf lying in the sawdust. I couldn’t help but smile. Unknowingly to me, my dad was about ten feet behind me grinning from ear to ear.” LeVan spent the next three years showing Shorthorn steers at the Champaign County Fair.
In 2006, after some research, LeVan discovered the Ohio Shorthorn Fall Showcase Sale and convinced his parents to attend. LeVan and his father didn’t know what to expect and found many of the heifers out of their price range. The beginning of their herd had a challenging start. LeVan explains, “As the last lot came in the ring I nudged him [his father] and told him there weren’t any heifers left to sell and he calmly stated, ‘I know’ and smiled. We bought the last heifer in the sale and, of course, she was the cheapest and the only one that wasn’t halter broke.” From there, LeVan continued to go to Shorthorn sales and became active in the Ohio State Shorthorn Breeders’ Association. He also participated in Junior Nationals and the Ohio State Fair.
For the LeVan family, a lot has changed since 2006. Over the last 10 years, “LeVanderosa Farms” has diversified its breeding program. Currently, they run a 30 head, multi breed, cow herd consisting of Shorthorn, Simmental, Angus, and crossbreds. They also work with local producers to lease around 25 recip cows for embryo transplant needs.
LeVan went on to attend Black Hawk East College and Western Illinois University. It was at these two institutions that he learned the values and techniques that he applies to his teaching and coaching responsibilities at Ohio State. LeVan is hoping to continue and build upon the success of previous Livestock Judging Teams. The first team was started in 1903 with Charles Plumb and there has been a team every year there was a contest. Since their start in 1903, the Livestock Judging Team has won the national contest 9 times. Some of the most nationally renowned judges have coached teams and taught coursework at the University such as Herman Purdy and D.J. Kays.
LeVan has already seen improvement in the team. At the 2017 National Western, in January, the team placed 8th. By April, the team came in first place at the All-East competition. LeVan hopes to continue the team’s growth through more involvement with regional FFA and 4-H groups. Members of the Livestock Judging Team have helped with practices and served as judges in local 4-H and FFA competitions. LeVan hopes to hold a clinic to provide competition insight for FFA teachers and 4-H advisors in either the fall or spring.
The upcoming year promises to be an exciting one for LeVan. He recently married Megan LeVan, nee Perry. LeVan is also looking forward to a productive 2017-2018 season. He thinks that several of his students might be named All-Americans in September. He welcomes contact about the Livestock Judging Team at email@example.com.