At BioZyme®, we are excited to help livestock exhibitors #PreptoWin in the show ring with Sure Champ® and Vita Charge® supplements. However, we know that it’s even more important to #PreptoWin in life, and the experiences both in and out of the ring lead to that preparation. As we head into junior national season, we got a chance to visit with Amy Cowan, Director of Youth Activities and Foundation with American Hereford Association, and Darla Aegerter American Junior Simmental Association Director of Youth Activities and American Simmental Association Foundation Manager for some input on their upcoming events.
- Why are youth programs and junior nationals so important to creating young leaders in our industry?
DA: There are so many benefits for these young people by being a part of the Junior Nationals. The connections made with allied industry people and getting to know their peers are crucial for long term success. The contests that they participate in provide leadership skills that will put our youth ahead of the curve both in their educational environments and in their future career endeavors. The junior national setting prepares our AJSA members for leadership and advocate roles in the cattle and agriculture industries.
AC: Youth programs and the junior nationals are vital in building young leaders because they provide a venue to compete and showcase cattle and your individual talents. It is all about networking, whether it be running for a position to lead the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) Board of Directors, participating in the Pen-to-Pen mentorship program or delivering the winning speech or sales talk to a panel of judges, we are constantly challenging our NJHA members to get out of their comfort zones, meet new people and improve and expand their skill sets. Through programs like the Bridging the Gap College and Career Fair we are exposing juniors to colleges and universities as well as companies in the industry that are looking to hire interns and future employees. We hope it’s agriculture, but no matter what industry these young people head to after college, because of their involvement in the NJHA, they should at least have the tools they need, some leadership skills, industry knowledge and a network they can call on to help them be successful.
2. What is your personal favorite aspect of your breed’s Junior Nationals?
DA: I really love watching these kids develop through the years. Each year, they continue to blossom and acquire the skills needed to have success in our contests, all while developing social skills and increasing their friendships and networks that will last a lifetime. Youth development is what it is all about, and my job is very rewarding that way.
AC: I love our Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE) Showmanship Contest. Sullivan Supply is our partner for this contest, and it is a highly anticipated event for the juniors and their families, and the competition is fierce. This year we will have more than 800 Hereford youth compete, with two rings running all day and it is so neat to watch the heats and semis and sometimes the semi-finals of the semis compete. At the end of the day when the top 10 seniors come back to compete in the fitting part of the contest and the champion is slapped, it is a very special moment at the JNHE. I have watched many of these juniors walk in the ring for their first time as peewees and as they get older, they set their sights on winning senior showmanship and it is pretty rewarding to watch them walk out of the ring that last time as a champion or top 10 senior showman of the JNHE. This contest represents hard work, late nights, early mornings and lots of dedication to being better and it’s easily one of my favorite days of the week when we get to watch these young people show off their talents.
- What are you most looking forward to for this year’s event compared to last year?
DA: We have a record number of cattle and contestant entries, and we are expecting a tremendous turnout now that COVID-19 has pretty much subsided. I am excited to see our kids and their families able to get together and enjoy the weeklong experience in a highly competitive, yet highly cooperative, event. The camaraderie our SimGenetics exhibitors and families create during National Classic is what keeps us motivated and dedicated to the junior program.
AC: We get to be social! The JNHE is all about fellowship and friendships and spending time with our Hereford family from across the country that we may only get to see one time a year. Last summer when we had to add masks and social distancing to the equation it was a challenge to say the least, but we all survived, and I think that makes this summer even a little sweeter as we will enjoy some of the little things we maybe took for granted two years ago that we get to bring back. We are all looking forward to the 4th of July Tailgate in which all 41 states will come together for food and fun, and we will celebrate the holiday and Hereford Spectacular together.
- How do allied partners like Sure Champ help young people in your organization reach their goals?
DA: The partnership with Sure Champ is very beneficial for both parties. Our youth members are exposed to a leader in the nutrition world, providing them with an opportunity to gain knowledge about animal nutrition – potentially sparking an interest in a career in that field and giving them new abilities to further their own beef operations.
AC: Partnerships like the one the JNHE has with Sure Champ are not only vital to the event itself, but the opportunities it offers our NJHA members are pretty amazing. This partnership started 16 years ago, and the list is long of things we have been able to add to the event and our leadership and educational programs with these title sponsorship dollars. Just to name a few, over the years we have held nutrition clinics at the JNHE, we have taken tours of BioZyme Inc., through the Feed the Future program we have worked together on the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout and last summer when we couldn’t hold our leadership conference in person, Sure Champ stepped up and hosted an awesome virtual conference. All this has been done with a #PrepToWin mentality. The Sure Champ products alone help these young people succeed with their cattle projects, but it is the people behind the Sure Champ brand that have really made this successful and their investment into our young people is like no other. They believe in our Hereford youth, and I think it comes full circle when NJHA members and alumni land internships and jobs with BioZyme Inc. This to me is the true measure of young people reaching their goals with an industry leading company with values based on young people and feeding the future.
- Give your best advice to your members who are working to #PreptoWin at your Junior National.
DA: Take your time and enjoy yourself. It is a lot of work getting cattle ready and it requires a lot of time to properly prepare for the contests but enjoy yourself while you’re at the event. The friendships you make will last a lifetime so make sure you get to know your peers while also taking care of your stock.
AC: Keep working hard, on these hot days it may sound like more fun to go to the pool with your friends, but maybe that extra time in the barn or extra time prepping to win the speech contest will pay off big once you get to the Junior National Hereford Expo. Good luck prepping to win, we can’t wait to see you at the Hereford Spectacular in Kansas City!