Fair season is officially upon us. For me, that means it’s show time. July is “crunch time” in the barn as we make our final preparations on the show stock. Washing, exercising, and grooming at 6:00 every morning, and spending countless hours in the barn, is how I get my animals ready for the fair.
Since I began showing livestock in third grade, the skills and techniques I use in the barn and in the show ring have immensely changed. As a first-year 4-Her, I can remember my first livestock show like it was yesterday. It was Friday morning of the Washington County Fair, and I was ready to bring home the champion ribbon with my leased prospect beef calf. With the nervous jitters, my older siblings and I arrived at the fair at 5:00 a.m. My older brother was showing two market steers, and my sister had a fall calf. Chris, the neighbor who I was leasing my calf from, arrived later that morning and gave me a slight boost of confidence with his kind words.
We began by washing the animals, cleaning the stalls, and feeding them their breakfast of champions. Then, it was time for fitting. I had no idea how to fit an animal, and I wondered if I would ever be able to do that myself. I noticed throughout the rest of the morning how all the older, more experienced exhibitors were getting their animals prepared to go in the ring. Little did I know how much of an influence those older exhibitors, my siblings, and Chris would have on my future years as a livestock showman. It was by watching them fit that I was able to take away new techniques each year. The first year I only knew the basics of washing and blow drying my calf. I have since learned each step in between, such as how to clip, pull up legs with adhesive, and give the hair its final “pop.”
As I have grown older in the livestock community, I have come to know the power of influence and the importance of being a role model to others. We all start at a point in which we may feel overwhelmed or even helpless, but it’s who we choose to look up to that makes the difference. I chose to look up to my older siblings and family friend, Chris. Each of them provide me with a new piece of advice at every opportunity; advice that can be used both in and out of the show ring.
Each day, we have the opportunity to influence at least one person. People do not need to have a title or position; instead leadership is simply one person influencing another. The people we surround ourselves with are constantly observing our actions and attitudes - whether positive or negative. With this in mind, we must value and demonstrate integrity and good character. We never know the impact we may be creating in a single moment, and for that reason, we must be aware of the influence we create.
As Chris’s boys, Wyatt and Colton, are now getting started with their showing careers, I have been able to serve as a role model to them. Most days, I do not even realize the influence I am creating. Not only do I serve as a role model to Wyatt and Colton, but also a teammate. We show together, learn together, and laugh together. This year, I will be circling my animals in the ring for the final time in 4-H. Although I will not be standing with Wyatt and Colton in the ring next year, I will most definitely be ringside proudly cheering on my teammates. I am excited to see how they eventually pass on that influence to others.
So no, I did not win the champion ribbon at my first fair, but I did gain some pretty incredible role models. What does your “crunch time” look like? Who’s influence will you choose to follow? How will you be an influence for others?
Stationed by the Ear of Corn,