I woke up early, washed, scrubbed and fed my pig because it was Showtime… Literally! Every year I, along with thousands of FFA members from around the state, work hard to get the perfect show animal for the county and state fair. The competition to see who has the better steer, hog or sheep is always a nip and tuck occasion as every member tries to show off their animal to the best of their ability and win the show. That show ring competition is what drives me, along with other members, to work long and hard to make their animal as perfect as possible.
This competitive drive has taught me several important skills throughout my showing career. The first is to work hard. Whether you started your beef project in the fall or in the spring with hogs, there is a lot of preparation that will need to be done before your livestock project is show ring ready. Thus the phrase, hard work pays off, rings true. Each and every day I own that animal I have to feed it at least twice a day, wash and walk them to train them to behave properly, and keep up with all the barn chores. All of these tasks really taught me to work hard even when nobody is watching, and that hard work pays off!
The second takeaway I got from showing was to build relationships. Each species has their own unique and special community of members and family that are always there to help each other out. I came from a family that didn’t show, so I had to rely on my FFAmily to help me along and teach me all about showing. They helped me out with borrowing equipment and quick little-showing technique tips to help showcase my animal better. As much as we want to win it all at each show, we must always remember to leave our competitive nature in the ring.
The last life lesson I have learned is to always try to stay humble and graceful about winning and losing. I have never been a shining star showmen, but I recognize I don’t always put in the appropriate time and money into my show animals. Now does that mean I don’t want and try to win?? Of course not, but it really helps me maintain perspective. If I win, I don’t rub it in other people’s face because I know they probably worked just as hard as I did and the judge just decided to pick me on that day. I do the same when losing (which happens more than winning does) because I know the winner put in extra time and effort to be great.
Competition can have a bad rap for causing conflict and controversy, but there are upsides to it as well. I have learned valuable life lessons from having show ring competition that ranges from knowing to work hard to really valuing relationships. As competitive as showing can be, it can make all of the work worth it. This week Minnesota FFA members and chapters have earned some amazing rewards for their hard work in developing their Supervised Agricultural Experiences and chapters. We are excited to share the finalists for American Stars, Proficiency awards, AgriScience Fair projects and National Chapter Awards. So check out all of the incredible work these FFA members have done to be able to compete at Nationals on the Minnesota FFA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mnffa)!
Stationed Beneath the Rising Sun,