The two words every showman dreads to hear: “senior year.”
I’m one of the lucky kids who gets an extra year due to my birthday. I made it through my senior year of high school. My last time walking onto the court and field. My last time walking down the halls. I was excited to graduate, and I was ready to go to college and work.
This summer I am approaching jackpot season in full swing with a lamb and a steer. I can honestly say I have mixed feelings about my final year. There are many opportunities that I have ahead of me. I have big goals set for my future and I am determined to achieve them. At the same time, a part of me is glad that this is my last year.
As I became older, I developed a more in-depth understanding of the stock show world. Some of it isn’t all that great, like the politics of the show industry. But the life lessons I learned both in and out of the ring outweigh the negative experiences.
I’d like to give advice to those who are just entering their show careers.
Realize that life isn’t fair.
Trust me, I know that some things aren’t fair. Some things you see may break your heart and infuriate you. You want to believe everything is always pure and people are always honest. While you can’t control others’ actions, you can control your own. Don’t let other people’s actions keep you from reaching your goals. Anger will get you nowhere. But the determination to be better and to do better will take you farther than you ever imagined. Use that fuel to reach your goals and set your standards high.
Let your parents help you.
I get it. Not everyone is raised in the show cattle industry. Your parents may not understand the show world but get them involved. Do things together and appreciate their interest. They have watched you grow and learn. They have watched you fail succeed. Let them help fit or hold your animal. If my mom fit my steer’s leg and it wasn’t perfect, I would still walk into the ring and rock it. Be grateful they take an interest in your passion.
Be a mentor.
If someone asks for help, help them. Everyone deserves help and an opportunity to learn. Many kids watch from the sidelines and want attention from an older showman. Be those kids’ mentor. Have faith in them. Believe in them. Help them. And once your showing career is over, you can continue to be involved by helping these kids.
Be thankful for everyone who has helped you in your journey. Without the breeder, without the mentor, without the 4-H or FFA advisor you may not be where you are. Thank your parents, feed representatives, neighbors, fair buyers, friends, and family. These people made you more determined. They gave you the drive to succeed and do better.
Sometimes we can get caught up in chasing the banner or we get caught up in other things going on in our lives. Sometimes we forget to enjoy ourselves. I currently am dual majoring at WVU Potomac State in animal science and pre-vet. I work two jobs and have my show animals. Life can be busy. But I only get my last year once.
Time in the barn can be the best part of your day. Take all the opportunities you can. Go to the jackpot shows with the intention of having fun. I guarantee you have a better chance to win more banners if you’re having fun.
I am excited and saddened it is my last year. This is the last time I walk into the ring as a youth. My senior year is about reaching my goals and making the most of it.
I hope you will learn from my advice and make the most of your show career, too.
Want more advice? Check out “Advice from an Ag Teacher: Six Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Beef FFA Project.”
Meet Sara Carr
Sara Carr comes from the mountains of Western Maryland where she and her family operate Three Sisters’ Farm. Her family raises cattle, hogs, and poultry. They also grow produce and crops. She is currently a student at WVU Potomac State University, dual majoring in animal science nutrition and pre-veterinary medicine. She has been involved in 4-H and FFA, showing everything from cattle to rabbits. Sara is passionate about public speaking and livestock judging, as well as agricultural education.
Do you have advice you would like to share
with a youth showman? We’d love to have your input!
Please post it in the comments below.