I can remember when I first found a passion for agriculture. My dad had taken me to the Delaware County Spring Livestock Show and we watched the hog show, he pointed at the kids in the Jay FFA jackets (Shout out to Jay Oklahoma FFA) and explained every little detail to me. After stepping into this new and fun environment he leaned over and asked me if I would want to show. I couldn’t hold back all of my excitement as I said yes, and at the young age of 8 years old, I had started something that would be bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. My dad had shown pigs and cattle growing up, so for him to be able to pass on the tradition was a dream to him. We didn’t go on daddy and daughter dates, we went on daddy and daughter pen cleanings. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way.
I loved looking in the ring and seeing my family sitting in the bleachers cheering me on, my Ag teacher standing by the side of the ring giving us guidance and of course my dad holding the show halter on the side of the ring. When standing in the ring or arena you never really notice how many kids are sitting there watching your every move. Trust me, they are though.
Agriculture for most of us is introduced by a family member. We watch either a cousin or brother showing or rodeoing and think “That looks fun, I want to try it!” Some are introduced to their love of agriculture through a teacher, agriculture teachers aren’t afraid to teach you and do an amazing job at introducing it to aspiring agriculturists or kids that took the class and try to get an easy A. Ag teachers don’t do easy A’s. Some had grown up on a family farm and it just made sense to keep the family tradition alive and becoming the next person to plant wheat and harvest it, just as their great grandpa had done many years before them.
The kids that were showing that day probably didn’t think about an 8-year-old girl dreaming of being in there one day. My dad probably didn’t dream that I would have chosen to pursue the agriculture world as a career and be so vocal in doing so. You see, it doesn’t matter if you know it or not, someone is watching you. For the younger generations that dream of wearing that blue and gold one day, or saddling up that horse and riding, you are inspiring someone.
My senior year I participated in my last show, and while doing so watched my brother show for his first 4H show. He had been sitting in those bleachers watching me show for 8 years. I had no idea that me stepping in that ring would inspire him to pick up a show stick and decide he wanted to see what showing was really about, but it did.
There are two ways to inspire people, for the better or for the worse. I can’t stress it enough to the older kids participating in shows and competitions that the way you act does matter. It doesn’t matter if you think no one is watching, because I guarantee you someone is. The older kids really need to think about who got them involved, and then use that and try to reach out and get someone else involved. I may be a tad bit bias but I think the agriculture kids are the best type of kids. If these great kids would inspire more kids to be just like them, could you imagine how many great kids we would have in this world?
It doesn’t take long for you to make a kids dreams by talking to them about showing or rodeoing, in about five minutes you could inspire this kid to be the next great in whatever they want to do. Kindness goes along ways, and for a world that has lost touch with agriculture it could make a huge difference. Be sure to encourage those younger kids when you see them. You never know how that could change their lives.
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