Livestock people are some of the most resilient people you’ll meet. They know the value of hard work and what it means to never give up. Those traits proved to be extra helpful in 2020, a year of uncertainty, cancelled and altered events. Even with a chaotic year, 2020 still gave us plenty of ways to count our blessings and share two of the most important words in our vocabulary: thank you.
This is the year to be especially thankful for show managers, staffs and volunteers who went above and beyond to make shows possible for the young exhibitors and their families who work so diligently with their livestock projects. Not every show could happen, and not every show happened when and where it was originally scheduled. However, a multitude of new shows popped up along the way giving exhibitors and their livestock the opportunity to get out and get experience.
“I will never take for granted the people of the livestock industry who jumped right in to organize new shows or found ways to have existing shows. (I’m thankful for) the organizers, but also the individuals and businesses who donated money to make this all happen,” said college freshman Sheridan Hank, Aledo, Illinois.
Although Hank’s local county fair was cancelled due to COVID-19, a virtual livestock show and sale took place. She has also been able to show both cattle and lambs throughout the summer and fall.
“I will never take for granted my county fair! Along with all the ‘small things’ that happen during that week each year,” Hank said.
Just as exhibitors are thankful for the opportunities to show, those who put forth countless hours of planning and preparation were grateful that the events and shows could continue, even if they had to be relocated or rescheduled.
“I am thankful for our Hereford families, and even in spite of all the challenges in 2020, that the National Junior Hereford Association and Hereford Youth Foundation of America have still been able to create opportunities for Hereford youth and their families. Events may look a little different than what we are accustomed to, but as we approach the holidays and look back on the year, we have so much to be thankful for as Hereford youth didn’t miss a beat when it came to competing at the Junior National Hereford Expo, participating in virtual leadership and educational events and being awarded scholarships,” said Amy Cowan, American Hereford Association Director of Youth Activities and Foundation.
Little Gestures Create Memories
Hank recounted about a family in her county in western Illinois who hosted a livestock show for some neighborhood youth in their front yard. With the help of neighbors, they created a show ring in their shaded front yard, provided a complimentary pulled pork dinner, hired a judge and hosted the “Shade Tree Invitational.” The show was on a Thursday evening in June and included 31 entries including breeding heifers, market steers, lambs, pigs and one bucket calf. It started with a prayer and the National Anthem, and there were more smiling grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles than you can imagine! It was likely the first function many had been to since the shut down in March.
One of the things event organizers wanted to do was make sure every kid left with something tangible. So, after the top placings in each class and the champions and reserves were all paid, all the other exhibitors walked away with a two-dollar bill. Although not always easy to secure, especially in small town America, when a young person receives one, their smiles are priceless.
One enthusiastic, young lamb exhibitor summed up her experience in a thank you note.
“It was the show I was really looking forward to it because it was my first show. My sheep was the Dorset, her name is Nelly… I put the $2 bill I got in a frame to save the memory. Thanks again for all your work.”
“Amazingly, there were even more opportunities than usual to show this summer. On one end of the spectrum, I’m thankful I got to watch my 5-year-old nephew with his steer at the Shade Tree Invitational. At the other end, I was thankful to show at the Angus Junior National in Tulsa. There were so many other memorable ‘live’ shows in between,” Hank said.
Sharing gratitude is always on trend. Just as we hope you #preptowin EVERY. DAY. in the show ring and in life, we also hope showing appreciation is part of your winning strategy. Make sure to thank your parents, teachers, FFA advisors and other leaders who have helped you along the way. Although our common bond is livestock, this truly is a people business.
“I am thankful for all of those who have ‘Come Home to Hereford.’ This has been one of the most fun advertising campaigns to be a part of, whether you make your home as member of the American Hereford Association, compete in National Junior Hereford Association shows and events or support the Hereford Youth Foundation of America, I am thankful to all our members, breeders, corporate partners like Sure Champ® and donors who give us the latitude to carry out our mission of education and leadership. Onward and upward we go into a new year that will no doubt bring us more challenges but new opportunities as well,” Cowan said.
Showing appreciation can take several forms. Send that simple hand-written thank you; pick up the phone and call someone who has impacted your life or use social media to share a story and publicly acknowledge those who have gone the extra mile for you. Whatever way you choose to show gratitude, remember the simplest words, “thank you,” mean so much.