Showing livestock is about more than taking home banners and ribbons. That’s what everyone says.
Besides the lessons of daily responsibility, winning and losing with grace and feeding and caring for animals, there is also a lot to be learned in how to be thankful. Livestock shows don’t happen without great leaders, even better volunteers and lots of financial support.
When T.R., Dax and Colby Putz leave a show they are looking for whom to thank for their experience. They place strong emphasis on saying thank you to judges, ring help and sponsors. The Putz boys say they certainly enjoy the value of showing, meeting new people and hanging out with friends from across their home state of Iowa. But these young men are keen to how a simple thank you might help keep the show industry that they love growing and thriving.
T.R., who is ten-years-old has earned awards in showmanship and exhibiting Champion heifers or steers at jackpots, the Iowa State Fair and the National Junior Hereford Expo shows. Dax shows Hereford cattle as well and his twin brother, Colby, shows chickens and sells eggs. T.R. says the awards make him proud to be a livestock showman and the fun he has makes him happy on the inside. The ribbons and trophies are icing on the cake.
After they get home from a show Dax says he and his mom write down on a piece a paper whom he needs to send thank-you cards.
“I start with, ‘Dear’ and the person’s name,” he says. “Then I say, ‘Thank you for sponsoring my show prize.’ The thank-you card is for the donor so they can feel good inside and proud too. They’re giving us something so we should give them something nice too.”
Dax and Colby say it’s about showing respect and appreciation for the ribbon, premium or prize. The seven-year-old Putz boys prefer to thank people face to face, simply because it’s easier than writing for them. This may make some kids nervous but Dax says it’s really important to try to do.
T.R. says at shows he will listen to the named sponsors announced on the microphone. If there is a sponsor listed to a breed or showmanship award then he will make a note of that name too. At the recent Iowa Beef Expo, he says John Sullivan of Sullivan Show Supply was a major sponsor. T.R. intends to send Sullivan a note of appreciation for supporting such a big show.
“Sometimes they will give a gift bag to every exhibitor and inside might be a new product from Sullivans,” T.R. says. “I think it’s important to tell him thank you because you feel good saying it and he probably appreciates hearing it.”
Here are a few tips from the Putz boys on how to say thank you.
- Have confidence. Dax says to just walk up to a sponsor at a show and say thank you for donating money or gifts.
- Challenge others. If you are going up to a sponsor to say thank you, take your friends along and encourage them to do so. At the show maybe the only time you have to thank them in person, so do it.
- Do more than write a thank you. When the Putz boys finish unloading their trailer and setting up stalls at a show they will offer help to others to do the same. T.R. says sometimes people need help unloading and loading chutes and show supplies and helping them feels really great.“Usually they just say thank you and I say, ‘No problem,” he says.
- Use the right format on a card. Start each thank you card with the word, “Dear” then the persons’ name it goes to. Then, the Putz boys say to specifically thank the sponsor for whatever they gave.
- Have an attitude for gratitude. Remember who sponsors a livestock award and how it feels to win something. Then when exhibitors grow up they should remember to sponsor an award too and pay it forward.
- Thank everyone at home. The Putz boys are very aware of how much time and money their own parents sink into showing livestock. Dax says he is thankful to his mom for helping them in the show barn. Colby says he is grateful to his whole family for helping him with chicken chores and for having a good attitude.“We don’t build anyone down,” he says. “We build them up.”
- Thank the neighbors. The Putz family has a neighbor, Cade VanVliet, who travels with them to shows. VanVliet helps their family but they also carpool together to jackpot shows. The neighbor friend is teaching the Putz boys to fit and clip as well. T.R. says he is working to master front legs then VanVliet will put him on back legs.The boys say VanVliet has never accepted money from them as payment for help or travel expenses. So to thank him the family finds ways to treat him by giving gift cards or a new sweatshirt.
- Don’t use email to send a thank you. T.R. says it takes longer to write a hand-written thank you card than to type an email. This means a hand-written card means more.“That and John Sullivan probably gets enough email as it is,” T.R. says.