Summer is finally here and the junior national show season is in full swing. Growing up, junior nationals was my sister and I’s favorite week of the entire year. Even though we considered it our “vacation”, we weren’t on a beach sipping fruity drinks. We were waking up early only to rinse and feed our show string before the day of activities began.
This week of summer is not only fun and memorable, but can also be very stressful. Below are a few tips to survive the week, based on my 12 years of attending the Junior National Hereford Expo!
1. Arrive prepared
Be sure to read all communications from your association and advisors when packing, and prior to arriving to the show. Make a list and don’t check it once, but check it twice (or if you’re a worry wart like me, check it three times!)
2. Learn the location
From attending this event, I traveled to more than 8 different states across the country and I learned pretty quick that there is a lot to see outside your home state. Take the time to learn and experience the places you travel – go on a tour, eat at different restaurants, and learn more about the area.
3. Stay hydrated
While you’re busy taking care of cattle, participating in contests and making friends, it can be easy to forget to drink water! In the hot summer months, it is important to stay hydrated so you have enough energy to enjoy the long week.
Once upon a time I was a young and shy junior member. It’s important to step outside your comfort zone and make friends not only within your state association, but with juniors from other parts of the country! Trust me, the people you meet will remain lifelong friends – even if you only see them once a year!
5. Compete in contests
There are so many contests to participate in, which can include livestock judging, team fit out, quiz bowl, public speaking…the list goes on and on! Not only do these events teach you valuable life lessons, but you can win some awesome prizes and even meet new faces along the way!
This may seem obvious, but if you have time for a quick power nap then take advantage of it! Do your best to get a good night’s sleep so you are well rested for the next day’s events.
7. Enjoy every single minute
Last summer was my last time exhibiting as a junior member, and this year will be the first time attending as a “retired member”. The 12 years I exhibited at the Junior National Hereford Expo were the BEST. It goes by in the blink of an eye, so live in the moment!
8. Remember where you once started
Everyone is on different experience levels and has different goals they would like to achieve. No matter what level of experience you have, always remain humble. Someone is always watching and wants to be just like you someday.
9. Be thankful
Trust me – I know what it’s like to be with your family non-stop for over a week. You get on each other’s nerves and will argue about the dumbest things. But no matter what, thank whoever made it possible for you to attend. This may be your parents, grandparents, siblings, cousin, friend, advisor, 4-H leader, etc. Give them a hug and thank them at some point in the week for making the trip possible. These people do more than you’ll ever know!