Did someone load the fans? Has the vet written health papers yet? Did you register for showmanship?
The endless questions are all too familiar when preparing for a junior national. Each year, our families have these same questions when preparing for a show. The stress of remembering all the little details that go into leaving home for a week and getting cattle ready can leave everyone stressed. From taking clothes to the dry cleaners and bedding the trailer, there are a lot of jobs to complete before you hit the road for ultimately the best week of summer. Whether it is your first junior national or you are preparing for your last, here is some advice we have used over the years when preparing.
1. Make a checklist: There isn’t anything worse than forgetting something for a show, no matter the importance. In the weeks leading up to junior nationals make a list of everything you will need from the show ring to the wash rack. Don’t forget about what you will need for the show. It is easy to get carried away packing for your animals and forget to pack for yourself. A detailed list will help solve this problem and keep the stress to a minimum before you hit the road.
2. Work with your animals: This comes natural for most people because they anticipate this week all year long, but a reminder is always helpful. The work you put in at home will be the results you get at the show. Take the extra time each day and practice with your animal. Getting your heifer used to you and a show stick will make showmanship that much more rewarding. It is also important to work the hair on your animals. At the start of summer make sure to brush and blow your animals dry for optimal hair growth. If you work on both of these each day, you will find yourself to have a much more exciting junior national!
3. Prepare for contests: From our first junior national, we can remember our parents encouraging us to participate in contests. Reluctantly, we competed and now see the benefits of each of the contest offered. From speech contests to judging contests, you have to bring your A-game! Take the time to prepare for the contests you want to compete in. Whether that is giving your speech each night to a family member or trying to sell your heifer for sales talk, being confident in your presentation will set you apart from your competitors. If you are passionate about the judging contest, ask a parent or mentor to help you better understand evaluating your animal. Find a contest you want to try, start preparing and give it your all! Leave your respected junior national with new experiences and skill under your belt.
4. Learn more about the area you are visiting: From Grand Island, Nebraska to Madison, Wisconsin, there is something unique about each city. Luckily, each year most juniors get to visit a new place. Be sure and research other fun things to do in the area and what they are known for. The awesome thing about junior nationals being in different places each year is the fact that you get to tour the country and expand your horizons. There is something new to learn around every corner.
5. Keep a binder with important information: An organized binder with health papers, registration papers, hotel confirmation and contest sign ups will make the first part of the week less stressful. It is easy to lose papers when moving in the barns and this will prevent that from happening. You do not want to be the one to blame when a heifer is missing her registration paper. Keep this binder close by and you will be ready for the show!
The countdown is on and preparation has begun for junior nationals all over the country. One last piece of advice we have is to make each junior national the best it can be. Looking back these memories and friendships will be some of the ones you’ll cherish the most. Try something new, learn something new and have fun! We guarantee you, it’ll be a week you won’t forget!