Showing livestock is something Whitney Walker takes personally. She makes it her personal responsibility to be the best exhibitor she can be while in the ring, and her personal mission to meet new people, forge friendships and help those who seek her advice.
The college freshman was born into the cattle business and grew up on her family’s cow-calf operation in northwest Arkansas. Even though her dad showed steers in his youth, her older brother Mason only showed a few steers before the siblings started showing heifers. She’s been showing on the national level since she was 8 years old. Although showing cattle is a passion for Whitney, building relationships has been one of the highlights along her journey.
I am just so thankful that I have gotten to meet so many awesome people through this industry,” Whitney said.
“I’m thankful for all the life lessons I’ve learned and all the opportunities. But, I am most thankful to have met the people that I have because my three best friends live in Texas, Illinois and Kansas. I know without the livestock industry and without the junior breed associations that facilitate these shows for us, there is no way I would have ever met them; they are really important to me. I am just so thankful that I have gotten to meet so many awesome people through this industry,” Whitney said.
Her Maine Passion
Whitney started showing Herefords, but since has shown multiple breeds including Angus, Chianina, Simmental and Maine-Anjou. She said her family has become a “Maine-dominant family,” although they typically still exhibit and participate in at least two other breed junior nationals in addition to the Maine junior national each summer.
“The Maines have always felt like a ‘home’ breed to me, and I get to serve on the Maine-Anjou Board with a group of really awesome kids, and it has just kind of given me a family within the livestock industry,” she said.
Whitney is just beginning her second term on the Junior Board, one of her favorite experiences.
“I love being on the Junior Maine Board. My favorite part is how involved we are with the juniors at junior nationals because we are running around doing something all week long, but at the end of the week, we get to go home and set down and realize how many of those kids we got to meet and interact with and build relationships with,” she said enthusiastically. “It just makes it more meaningful to me. It is hard to juggle showing and junior board responsibilities. Lindsey [Broek] is really awesome, and she works with us, and we all help each other out!”
More Leadership Opportunities
In addition to serving as a role model for the youth who show Maine cattle, Whitney was able to assume another leadership role this year, as one of the inaugural Sure Champ® Ring Leaders. She is one of seven young exhibitors from across the country, representing various species, chosen to represent the brand. The Ring Leaders received leadership and brand training from the BioZyme® staff, learning more about the product lines, Amaferm®, the prebiotic found in each product, and team building during a weekend retreat this spring. They have used their knowledge to promote and educate others on livestock nutrition.
“It’s been a really fun experience so far. I’ve had a lot more kids interact on my social media, and they were more curious than I expected about the Sure Champ line and the Sure Champ products. You’d think a lot of the times the parents make feeding decisions and what to buy, but these kids are actually invested and want to know about what their animals are eating. I’ve had a lot of them ask me what Amaferm is, and now I can actually explain to them what it is and back up how Sure Champ products work,” said the Ring Leader from Prairie Grove, Ark.
Although Whitney enjoys the opportunity to share about the Sure Champ products, she doesn’t let an opportunity slip by to make those personal connections and build friendships with her fellow Ring Leaders. She said the training allowed them to bond as a team, and not just remain individual brand ambassadors from around the country.
“It’s been a really fun experience, and I love all the other kids that I’m on it with. I didn’t know any of them before, but now they are some of my closest friends, too.”
Whitney relishes the chance to meet people and make new friends as she attends shows and leadership events across the country. She also knows that success begins with preparation and hard work at home. One of the ways she keeps her heifers healthy and show ring ready is with the Amaferm advantage. Her show string is fed Sure Champ Cattle, a pelleted, daily vitamin and mineral supplement for show cattle to improve digestive health, stimulate appetite and optimize health. The complete vitamin and mineral supplement contains organic zinc, copper and manganese and the maximum allowable level of selenium in addition to vitamins A, D and E along with niacin and B-12 for added growth, bloom and health. In addition to the Sure Champ Cattle, her heifers also have access to the Vita Charge® Stress Tubs at home. However, when she goes on the road, she never leaves home without Vita Charge Liquid Boost®.
“I like using Liquid Boost the most when we go to shows because it helps keep the heifers healthy and acclimated, and it makes the whole process a lot smoother. It’s pretty rare that they go off feed or water when we travel when using Liquid Boost,” she said.
The Vita Charge Liquid Boost is a liquid supplement for animals of all species that supports digestive health and promotes feed and water intake during times of stress and recovery. Its palatable flavoring helps create consistency in taste of any water source. In addition to Amaferm, it also contains MOS to trap and expel pathogens, limiting their ability to do harm.
Whitney is about to finish her first semester at Oklahoma State University where she is studying Ag Business and Ag Leadership, with more potential to expand her personal network. On campus, she is a member of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) Student Council/Freshman-transfer Council, gaining even more leadership skills. She is also a member of the Freshmen in Transition (FIT) program, a living and learning transitional program through CASNR. She said her dorm is only students who are majoring in agriculture, and they are there to support one another as well as further develop their leadership skills while building personal contacts and friendships.
After graduation, Whitney plans to stay firmly rooted in agriculture with hopes to continue working with young people. Ideally, she would like to work in the junior livestock industry, for a feed company, in show management or with a breed association’s junior programs department, as she really enjoys working with the kids.
And her final advice for someone who isn’t quite sure if he or she want to pursue showing livestock?
“If a person’s true values include determination, pride in work and developing life skills, I would suggest showing livestock. You will develop into a good showman, but an even better person. Junior nationals are the highlight of the year. Even if you don’t win the show, you’re going to have an enjoyable time and meet awesome people!”
Whitney is already on her way to meeting many wonderful people and making great memories thanks to her involvement in the livestock industry. With leadership opportunities that help her reach her full potential and supplements from Sure Champ and Vita Charge that help keep her heifers healthy and eating, you’re sure to continue to see and hear from Whitney Walker in the future!