Show stock Lessons

When I was in 4-H, my parents always told me that showing livestock was a family affair. Although the animals were my project, working together as a family and receiving help from my parents throughout the summer show season was important.

While I was at the Ohio State Fair these past two weeks, I took a second to stop and look around at the families working together. I truly believe in the saying, “those that work together stay together.” Showing cattle was always more to me than just winning a purple ribbon or shiny trophy. Showing livestock teaches lifelong values and characteristics to the youth that they will always live by. Now that I am out of 4-H and have the chance to stand back and watch the up and coming generation of showman, I cannot help but reflect on the lessons showing livestock taught me, as well as watch these characteristics showcase in other youth.

  1. Hard work- the countless hours, days and night that are put forth to care for our livestock are unmeasurable. Eight a.m. show days come early in the morning when move in to the fair was finished up at midnight. Showing livestock teaches youth how to work hard with their project for success.

    drying

    Showing beef cattle requires youth to spend time in the barn washing and drying their animal. Patience, time, and practice are three motivational goals learned through working hard.

  2. Dedication- showing livestock requires dedication to not only feed and water the animals every day, but also work with and clean them daily. Livestock youth are dedicated to the well-being of their animals all hours of the day, in all types of weather.

    tying (2)

    Spending the time with ones project is important to teach it how to walk, set up, and get use to a change in surroundings. Youth must be dedicated to work with their project multiple days a week to get it ‘show ready.’

  3. Manners- Working together as a family taught me that “please” and “thank-you” go a long way. Although some days can be more stressful than others or the days that parents seem to be doing everything backwards from planned, being a part of the show stock industry teaches youth to thank their parents, siblings, other youth, 4-H and FFA advisors, and the judge for their help and hard work.
  4. Tears- Everyone always has the hope of walking out of the show ring being the champion, but like so many things, there can only be one winner. Showing livestock teaches youth how to win with dignity and loose with grace. More times than not tears have been shed because an animal misbehaved or I wanted to place higher in a class than I did, but through the tears, I learned to be grateful for what I did have and shake the hand of the winner.
  5. Love- showing livestock is about loving what you do and doing it because you love it. My last two years in 4-H, I found my happy place in the barn washing and blow-drying my projects. Spending so much time with the same animal allows you to learn their personality and become best friends. Showing livestock teaches you to not only love your animals, but love your family for being there with you every step of the way.

    spotlight

    Spending so much time with an animal throughout all weather conditions and throughout the highs and lows of every show allows you to become best friends. Learning the personality of your show animals and connecting with them in and outside of the ring can bring so much joy and happiness to youths’ life.

I could never express how truly grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to grow up on a farm and show livestock for numerous years. When I look back and reflect on the entirety of the years, the ribbons and banners won mean a lot, but the valuable lessons through experiences are treasures that have helped shape me into who I am today. I hope that as I begin to help the next generation of youth, as well as watch the youth working together with family and friends, they find value in the lessons showing their livestock will give, as I did throughout my years as a show stock kid.

Show cattle and smiles!
~Demi~

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