This past weekend I had the opportunity to mingle and learn with youth and parents of the beef industry about responsible beef practices in and out of the show ring. For the past 16 years, Ohio has brought together youth and families allowing them the opportunity to exhibit their 4-H and FFA projects in a winter show program called the BEST circuit, which stands for beef exhibitor show total. The opportunities, showmanship skills, and leadership lessons learned throughout this program expand beyond the barn and the show ring, helping teach kids of all ages the responsibility, care, sportsmanship, and educational promotions that are all intertwined within the beef community.
Members of the program partook in a Youth Beef Industry Day, where they were able to listen to guest speaker Kirk Stierwalt in a Livestock Evaluation and Showmanship Session, as well as a social media as a communication session, learning different cuts of meat, and prominent issues in the beef industry-answering the question, what is our role?
If you are in the BEST Program in Ohio, chances are you love showing, making friends and memories and most importantly, you love spending back-to-back weekends standing in Ohio’s cold weather. The first two sessions were geared towards the showman side of the beef industry. It is important as we look at showing our steers and heifers, that we first know the proper showmanship techniques in the ring, as well as the proper showman techniques out of the ring. Everyone loves to win, but it is obvious there is only one winner, and showing cattle teaches kids to win and loose with dignity and grace as well as being a good sport and congratulating others. It is also important that we teach our youth how to evaluate their animals. Not only is this important from the show side of the industry, but it is also important that at a young age, we learn how to evaluate our cattle for sicknesses so we can make the proper assessments to get them healthy again.
Outside of the show ring, communication about the beef industry is important. Whether you are at your school lunch table, county fair, or on a social media site, portraying the beef industry in a positive light is necessary for all ages. It is important to teach these youth that all of us are advocates for the beef industry. While at the county fair, you have the power to engage in conversations with someone from a non-agricultural background, or you have the opportunity to tell your beef story about your daily work regnum before show ring time on your social media page. Understanding the current topics in the beef industry and the best way to answer them is important for the youth and their parents. The power of communication is strong and promoting social media savviness and communication is a key to success.
Opportunities like this are vitally important as we prepare our next generation of leaders. It is important and necessary that they understand showing cattle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can help you make new friends and memories, but showing cattle and being a part of a winter circuit allows you to learn so much more about leadership skills, hard work and responsibility, as well as the importance of promotions outside of the show ring. The beef industry is more than the end of a show halter and a shiny show stick, and teaching these youth of the beef industry that we all have a part to be advocates and promote our livelihood is extremely important.
It’s all about that BEEF!