10 Ways Showing Livestock as a Kid Helped Me Prepare for College

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By: Taylor Belle

Being raised as a fifth generation Hereford breeder, my time growing up was spent helping out on our operation and working on show heifers.

Rice root brush in one hand, comb in the other and top country hits coming over the radio. This was how summer days washing heifers went for my brother and I. My parents raised us to do things the way they were taught – old school. There were two main reasons we did this, to get the heifers dry and so the heifers had hair by the time we went to the Junior National Hereford Expo. As I enter my senior year of college, it is easy for me to see now they had a reason for doing things the way we did. Sure they wanted our heifers to have hair, but more importantly they were equipping us with values that couldn’t be bought.

  1.  What you put in is what you get out
  • From showmanship practice to brushing heifers, it didn’t matter what the scenario was it was easy to see the more I worked on my heifers the better the outcome was. Now that I am in college, the same principle holds true when I am studying for my classes.
  1. Shaking hands
  • Whether you win the show, or are at the bottom of the class a firm handshake is polite. Now that I am in college and have participated in multiple interviews and served as the one interviewing I value a proper handshake. Looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand will never go out of style in the show ring or in life.
  1.  Take directions from others
  • I learned a lot from brushing heifers each summer, but one of the most important I have found is to value the directions given to you. It would have been easy for my brother and I to use a blower and take the easy way out. But we knew we were expected to get them dry the way we were taught and do the job the right way. When it comes to college and life this is a valuable skill to have. Professors and bosses expect us to take directions and complete the task at hand.
  1. Interviews
  • If you are involved with a breed association, 4-H or FFA you understand interviews better than most. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how prepared I was to interview for leadership positions and jobs on campus. Being raised in this industry provides countless opportunities to be prepared for college.

  1.  Lifelong friends
  • Making new friends is one of the best parts about college and can also be one of the most frightening. I often wondered who my friends would be in college, but as you can probably guess they ended up being from the livestock industry. Showing cattle allowed me to make friends from across the country before I went to college and now we are able to attend the same university.

  1. Early mornings
  • I will admit, I never was a morning person in high school, but when we had work to do on the farm or at a show I was ready when I needed to be.  When I went to college I quickly learned my version of sleeping in and my dorm floors version of sleeping in were two complete opposites. This made it easier for me to see that early mornings have a purpose in helping us make the most of our days.
  1.  Getting involved on campus
  • When you are raised on a farm or ranch there is always something that needs done. I remember my first week at college I had more free time than I had ever had before. Once you have spent your life always having something to work on it made it easy for me to seek campus involvement. Now that I am involved in a few organizations on campus, I no longer have that free time and college feels a lot more like home.
  1.  Work doesn’t end until the work is done
  • Working on your heifers never ends until their show career is over and then you focus on making them into cows. The same can be said for college. In classes, organizations and jobs the work never ends. There is always something you can be doing to move yourself forward in these areas.
  1.  Missing class isn’t the end of the world
  • The famous line “Don’t let school get in the way of your education” is well known around the livestock industry. Growing up, I missed school to attend shows and a few times to help on the farm. In college it is not ideal to miss classes, but there are so many opportunities outside of the classroom to learn. Luckily missing a few days in high school prepares you to miss a couple days of class to study abroad or take a week internships.
  1. Teamwork
  • My brother would help my dad with hay and I would work on our heifers. I was helping him out by washing his heifer and he was helping me by having hay to feed our heifers. Teamwork is something I learned growing up from my family and have been able to carry over to college. Working as part of a team makes projects in college fun, but being able to see that everyone is working towards a common goal is even better.

There are a lot of memories I am able to look back on and realize that my parents raised me best by raising us in the livestock industry. Showing cattle taught me a great deal about the beef industry, but more importantly it taught me how live life to its full potential and make the most of my time in college.

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