July……What’s the first thing you think of when you hear that word? For me as far back as I can remember, I guess the word that pops to mind the most is…..Vacation! July means summer is well under way, and kids are out of school. The majority of parents are trying to find something for the fruits of their loins to do with the downtime. Hopefully it’s something productive mixed with a little fun- things like summer camp, junior engineering and science camps, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or some activity that adds value to thteir children’s lives.
Other kids, well for lack of better parenting, will waste away watching reruns of the latest Kardashian escapades, killing zombies until the wee hours of dawn on a video game, and probably consuming a cornucopia of the latest wholesale frozen fast food treats. Those kids will return back to school in the fall knowing less than they did before the summer break. Its pure science- if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Then, there are the “chosen” as I like to think of them. The youth of America that find themselves still getting up early in July, (maybe they get to sleep in till 6am instead of the usual 5:30am wakeup), taking care of their show cattle and continuing a day in and day out chore list that gets no summer vacation. Why do they do it? Because they learned that their animal depends on them and without their personal care their animal would suffer. That’s why they stumble out groggily to the barn in their pj’s and muck boots (languidly trying to avoid stepping on the cat, how many lives does MC have left now as the shriek of meowwwwww, brings stark attention to wide open ears?) to ensure their animals have food, water, shelter, and are thriving. What’s the reward for this almost rhythmic activity performed time and time again? Well, if it’s a pretty white faced Hereford that you’re giving your time, then it’s a trip to the National Junior Hereford Exposition (JNHE), this year being held in Kansas City, Missouri during July 14-21.
Considered by some to be the greatest family vacation ever, it’s a time for youth with Hereford cattle projects to come together. During the week long gathering participants get to compete, enjoy camaraderie, gain knowledge, develop leadership, and learn so many valuable skills that will serve them in any endeavor of life that they’ll pursue. In my opinion, education has so much to do with experience, and the experience these future adults gain at this event just makes for a good, well rounded individual.
Contestants at this year’s JNHE not only get to show their cattle projects, (be safe on the road, and remember you can triple a lariat rope across the back of the trailer to make a makeshift rear door that will get you and your show cattle 250 miles down the road and back to the ranch if you accidentally lose your rear trailer door…true story!) but they get to compete in skills contests like extemporaneous speaking and quiz bowls. There is even a grilling challenge, (beware I hear the red headed judge can be influenced and he likes spicy food!!) where contestants can put on their best Guy Fieri or Rachel Ray impersonations. (I’m a little jealous that this wasn’t around when I was showing.) These youth are going to have a blast while learning and becoming well rounded individuals, and we wish them all the best.
Some of these exhibitors will go on to propel the future of the beef industry, and continue carrying the flag of Hereford cattle and that of Certified Hereford Beef. Providing the world with high quality, lean, nutritious protein will be their responsibility. A legacy that becomes increasingly ever more important as the world we know continues to grow.
Inevitably, they won’t all go into careers in the beef industry but their time, commitment, and the relationships that develop will last them a lifetime. This group of youth will grow up to pursue careers in science, engineering, medicine, education, politics, or wherever their heart takes them. They will help people, set examples for what a good life lived is, develop new ways of doing things, and make their communities and in essence the world a better place. All because they took a little summer vacation in July!
We would like to thank all the parents and wish them and their exhibitors the safest travels and best of luck this year!
Good Luck Kids,