More Than Just Beef and Banners

The first time I entered the show ring at eight years old, I had a million thoughts running through my mind. Keep my eyes on the judge, keep my steer’s head held high, set him up quickly, watch out for others, and so on. Now fast forward ten years. I am standing outside the show ring at the 2015 Illinois Beef Expo, with a million thoughts still running through my mind. A million different thoughts. This would be my last time entering this show as a junior exhibitor. This is my final year of showing cattle altogether. So what traits have I acquired from my past ten years of experience in the show ring?

Be a hard worker.

Working hard is not an option, it’s a requirement. There are no weekends off, holidays, or excuses. It’s a job that must be done 365 days of the year. And most importantly, what you exhibit in the show ring is a reflection of your work ethic outside the show ring. DSCN2122

Think Positive.

The difference between first and last place is one opinion. An opinion that will be different from judge to judge. Placing lower than you desired at one show is not failure, it’s an experience. Take what you can from every experience and turn it into a lesson. No matter the outcome, you keep your head up and move forward. Tom 010

Be Self-motivated.

You get out of it what you put into it. Cattle do not break themselves to lead, train their hair, or lead themselves into the show ring. Winning is not a participation ribbon for showing up, winning is doing everything in your power to reach your full potential. Tom 002

Be Team-oriented.

If communicating with a 1500 pound animal is not teamwork, I don’t know what is. We learn valuable communication skills without ever opening our mouths. Aside from my four-legged partners, show days could have never been accomplished without the team effort of my family. From packing the trailer to fitting calves, we depended on each other every second to achieve the goal. 216686_2255434835470_4664954_n

Be Organized.

You don’t know what multitasking is until you try to fit multiple calves, keep track of the class schedule, keep yourself looking presentable, and watch the show all at the same time. Organizational skills are not just vital on show day but in other aspects such as record keeping, budgeting, and general maintenance of livestock. 1071698_10201729695234236_17419972_o

Work well under pressure.

You have a limited amount of time in the show ring to showcase your animal, and every move you make is on display for viewers to witness. Over the years, I have learned to expect the unexpected. 10527409_10204124828138294_4801541410219076048_n

Be an effective communicator.

I highly accredit my decision to pursue a career in Agricultural Communications to my years spent in the show ring. My first few years of showing I dreaded the moment the judge approached me to engage in conversation. Let’s just say after countless showmanship classes year after year that my dad insisted on, I overcame this fear quickly. My fear of communicating with strangers grew into a passion for sharing my knowledge about the cattle industry and agriculture. 39203_1540775849442_4656987_n

According to a study done by CareerBuilder, all of these traits I mentioned made the top 10 list for what companies are hoping their future employees possess. So what’s the big deal? To outsiders, the Illinois Beef Expo may just look like a bunch of beef and banners. It’s more than just beef and banners. These young exhibitors are the future of agriculture. Providing them with the opportunity to show their livestock to the world is providing them with the skills they need to be successful in promoting and educating the world about our industry. They believe in the future of our industry.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the flashback pictures from over the years!

References & Sources: Brooks, Chad. “The 10 Non-Tech Skills Employers Are Looking for Most.” 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. Retrieved from

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