This week I went to the Tulsa State Fair and watched my 11-year-old brother show his pig. As I sat in the stands I began looking around the ring, and all around me. I saw proud parents gleaming as their son or daughter drove that prized show pig in the ring. I saw FFA Advisers and 4-H Leaders’ skimming the ring looking to see if their kid had a chance to make the sale. I saw fitters and breeders standing on the sidelines guiding the kids on what they need to be doing.
As I sat in those stands, I began noticing something I hadn’t before. I saw the younger siblings watching their older siblings. I saw kids that were just there to watch a livestock show, sitting there observing every move that livestock exhibitor was making. I began noticing how eager these kids were just to talk to the older showmen about what they were doing. All of this watching from the younger generations, and I guarantee not one exhibitor noticed those little eyes on them. In the back of the barn after the show, little kids were everywhere. Not one member was talking to these kids, and you could see in the little kids faces they wanted to talk.
So this goes out to all the livestock exhibitors out there. I get it, after a long hard day you don’t want to teach a bunch of kids about livestock showing. I’m sure it was a long week, and you have better things to do. Here’s the thing, boots don’t fill themselves. The livestock showing industry is all about the younger generations, picking up the halter and show stick and carrying on that tradition.
My dad showed livestock in high school, and he wanted me to show livestock as soon as I turned eight years old. He took me to my very first livestock show, and I can remember sitting in awe of the most remarkable thing, my young brain had ever seen. I can’t tell you how cool it would have been for an FFA member to talk to me. That just doesn’t seem cool to the older kids though. Guys it so much cooler than you think!
When I graduated high school in 2013, my little brother decided he wanted to give the show world a try. It’s a family tradition. A tradition that started with my dad and will continue being passed on in my family. A tradition that can start by a cool FFA member talking to a little kid about showing livestock.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you graduate FFA and 4-H someone is going to have to put that jacket on to keep the tradition alive. Take time and talk to the younger generations. In the agriculture industry, we all have to join forces and take care of one another. As a livestock exhibitor, you are participating in the agriculture industry. Be kind, and share some knowledge.