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7 ways to build your network in the stock show industry

I showed pigs growing up. When I was in high school and thinking about college and career, I often wished I could start expanding my network. I wanted to meet people who had careers that interested me. (In high school, I wanted to be a farm broadcaster.) I wanted to talk to students a few years older than me who were at a college I wanted to learn more about. (You can major in Agricultural Communication?) Sometimes, I really wanted to talk to a professional whose work I admired. (I listened to the same voices on the radio each day and wanted to know more about their career path.) Since I graduated from high school pre-social media (but post-AOL Instant Messenger for those keeping track), the avenues for networking were limited. But today, there are several options for networking online in addition to the tried-and-true. Here are seven ways to build your professional network in the stock show industry: A good handshake and introduction – I don’t believe any social media platform or technology will ever take the place of a good handshake and introduction. This one is simple. Practice this skill. Then use it to introduce yourself to that speaker who came to your class, the professional who took time to judge the contest you’re participating in, and the junior board member who goes to that college you think is cool. Volunteer at events – Want to get in the same room as the above mentioned individuals? Show up…

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Yes, my kids are RAISED IN THE BARN!

Some say my kids are raised in a barn like it’s a bad thing. I’m here to tell you on the contrary, it’s the best thing. My husband and I have made a conscious decision that we want our kids to be involved in raising livestock from a very young age. In fact I can specifically remember that when we brought each one of them home from the hospital as a newborn bundle of joy, our first stop was the barn before we even set foot into our house. I have pictures of each of the kids fresh out of the hospital in their car seats, sitting on the barn floor in front of the sheep feeders with curious ewes and dogs coming right up to sniff the new addition to the family. That’s a memory that I will always cherish. Now that my three kids are ages 7, 4 and 2, and we’re in the heat of lambing season during February in Ohio, I am starting to truly see values being infused into their tiny little souls as a result of being in the barn during lambing season.  To call specific attention to my point, I believe there is significant value in involving your children in raising livestock. Some might ask “Why?” so here is my answer to why my family chooses to raise our kids side-by-side while raising livestock.   There’s something miraculous about witnessing a new life come into the world. I believe any mother or father…

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9 Things They Just Don’t Understand

  If you have friends that are not involved in the stock show lifestyle, these are topics you will constantly find yourself explaining to them. 1. The fact that it is perfectly normal to have best friends that live thousands of miles away from you. We all have that stock show best friend, that person you get so excited to see. Every time you do see them, it is like the “reunion of all reunions”. We met this person at NAILE or National Western, or at Jr. Nationals and this is “our person”. They just get it. No, you don’t have to see them or talk to them every day, but when you do, look out for hours of fun conversation and catching up. 2. I will cry when I sell my animal. “Why are you crying? Don’t you get money for your animal?” I don’t think anyone out there shows livestock for the money. The life lessons and character I see that shine through in stock show kids are why we do what we do. So yes, the animal I worked with all summer does get sold, and yes I will absolutely be upset, even though I knew this going into the project. 3. I promise that everyone dresses like this at the shows. I’ll never forget the first time I went to school in show jeans and square toes. One girl asked me if it was cowgirl day and she missed the memo, so that was slightly embarrassing…but…

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Why your five best friends matter

One weekend in high school, I attended an FFA conference along with a few hundred other participants from around the state. The conference was great, the speakers were inspirational, the sessions were motivating, but what I remember enjoying the most was the people around me. They were so uplifting, so motivated, so forward-thinking. Spending time with people like that was very impactful, because I, too, felt more motivated. Jim Rohn, successful author and speaker, once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether you’re in the high school hallway, on the basketball court or soccer field, in the studio, at your office, or out for the weekend, who you surround yourself with matters. It matters because we are significantly influenced by those around us. If the people around us are goal-driven, we’re more likely to focus on our goals. If our teammates have a positive attitude, we’re more likely to see the glass as half full. If our friends see the bigger picture, we’re more likely to think about solutions from a wider perspective. Of course, it works the other way, too. If the people you surround yourself with are whiny, short-sighted, dramatic, lazy, or uninvolved, you’re more likely to take on some of those characteristics, too. So, of whom are you the average? Who are the people you spend the most time with in your home community, at school, and in your free time? Who are your circle of friends in…

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Choosing The Perfect Calf Blanket

It only makes sense to use a calf blanket for babies during the winter months. We know that these calves need to stay warm and dry during damp, cold winter days. Not only do they need to be comfortable, but blankets will keep them healthier by increasing weight gain. In my past experience, blanketed calves noticeably gain a significant amount of weight versus non-blanketed calves. Here are some points to ponder when choosing the right blanket. 1. How durable is it? Blankets are an investment in the health of your calf—don’t skimp on a cheap one! They should hold up during washing and daily use. If you purchase a good quality blanket, it can be used for years. 2. Is it water resistant? Look for a blanket that is water resistant. It’s important to keep your calf dry during snowy or rainy days. This will prevent them from getting sick and keep you from getting stuck with another vet bill. 3. Does it have straps? Straps are needed to keep your blanket in place on the calf. My personal preference for a closure system would feature a hook and loop front closure that rests on the calf’s chest. Also, I prefer adjustable elastic straps that fit snugly around the calf’s rear legs. Don’t give up on the hunt to find the perfect blanket! Your calf will thank you for it. Renee Hershberger

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When you feel like quitting, try this instead

I get it. It’s cold. If you live north of I-70, there’s a good chance there is snow and ice. Everything seems more difficult in the winter, doesn’t it? Cleaning pens suddenly requires specialized gloves that won’t cut off circulation, somehow keep your hands dry, and still won’t let you get frostbite. Hauling feed now requires skill in ice skating. My personal winter pet peeve: getting dressed to go outside takes longer than the quick barn check itself. In harsh conditions, it’s especially easy to feel like quitting. It’s just going to freeze again tomorrow, why bother breaking up that ice? Surely that one last chore can wait until the weekend, or spring for that matter. You said you were going to work with your animal every day, but that was before all this snow. Your friends have really started bugging you about not going out on the weekend with them any more, so it would easier to just blow off the chores you should really do on Saturday night. When you feel like quitting, ask yourself, “What will I feel like if I quit?” That’s right – what will it feel like when you don’t reach your goal because you gave up your commitment? What will it feel like when you let yourself down? What will it feel like when you know you didn’t do everything possible to achieve your goal? You know the answer. So stick with it, go the extra mile, and tough it out. Even when…

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The ONE thing that makes all the difference

  At the beginning of a new year, it seems all we hear about are resolutions – goals for the new year, changes folks swear they are going to make this time around, and, of course, weight-loss missions. That first week of January, your news feed is flooded with declarations of intent. You probably also notice them at the beginning of every sports season, every school year, and every holiday. We all have goals. We all have dreams about what could be. We might even have one (or more) of those resolutions for the new year. The reason we ALL have goals and dreams is because that’s the easy part. How many posts will you see later this month about those goals? What are the chances you’ll read about someone’s progress in March? Who will be excited to tell you about their improvement this summer? The bigger question, how many won’t? One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford. “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Reputation isn’t the driving force here, but it’s a solid reminder that what distinguishes leaders is the ability to execute. Anyone can set goals. Not everyone will be willing to do the hard work to get there. You have some goals for your livestock project in 2016? Then you need to make the choice to do the work. What will the work look like for you? Depending on your goals, it could mean going to the barn before school,…

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What the pros know about being successful

Have you ever caught yourself saying these things? “If only I had a better wash rack, then…” “When I finally get better at clipping, then…” “We don’t have what [insert neighbor’s name] has, so I can’t…” Yep, I’ve been there, too (on all counts, unfortunately). But here’s the deal. When we’re faced with challenges, it’s easy to to fall into the “if/then” trap, but it doesn’t get you any closer to your goals. Even the most expert and elite professionals started somewhere. And therein lies the key: START. Just start. Start where you are. Don’t wait until you feel ready. Don’t wait until you have all the equipment on your wish list. Don’t wait until you can go every last show. Don’t wait until your barn is perfect. Just start. Successful people – in livestock, sports, business and life – know that what separates the great from the good is the willingness to get started, wherever you are, and then keep working, even when you don’t feel ready or when progress seems slow. So stop making excuses. Walk your pigs. Rinse your calf. Practice showmanship. Clean the pens by hand. Learn as you go. Celebrate the wins and learn from every win and loss. And keep working. Take action. Before you know it, you’ll be on the road to success. But before you can get on the road, you have to get started. What will you start today? Marlene Eick

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Set Goals in January, Not Resolutions

The definition of resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something. “My New Year’s Resolution is going great.”- said everyone ever…on January 2nd. However, by the third week of January, everyone seemingly forgets how dedicated they were earlier in the year. Every decision made had previously revolved around that initial resolution. It’s great to start strong, but what ever happened to finishing up that resolution? Despite Webster’s definition, resolutions just don’t seem to have that concrete sense about them. They are easily overlooked and forgotten by the first few weeks of a new year. To make a change, everyone has to take that first step, but they have to continue and make it a habit. So how do we make changes without creating resolutions? The answer? SET GOALS and create road maps to get there. Give yourself a chance to be successful by taking the time to write down all that you hope to accomplish. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Set timelines and most importantly have an understanding of your motivation behind these goals. Tell people around you your goals and aspirations. Surround yourself with people that help you reach those goals and that help keep you accountable. Put these goals in a spot where you look at them every day and you are constantly reminded to keep focused. I’ll leave you with this; “The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by…

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Set goals, but learn this secret.

I graduated from a small, rural high school. Among the many perks of a small school is often having the same teacher for multiple courses. I had the privilege of learning from Mr. Leuthold for two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and one year of pre-calculus, and even though the content changed from year to year, his approach to class was the always the same. Each day we would spend a significant amount of time reviewing the homework problems assigned the previous day, going over the steps we used to arrive at an answer. He wasn’t interested in just the answer that was at the end of the problem; he checked to see how we had gotten there. When quizzes and exams were graded, we earned points for the steps we demonstrated solving a problem and for the correct answer. Mr. Leuthold often discussed the importance of paying attention not just to the answer, but to the “getting there”. Whether you’re showing cattle, lambs, goats, or pigs, you start each project with a goal. Maybe it’s a banner. Maybe it’s to make the cut at the majors. Maybe it’s a breed champion. Maybe it’s getting your name called at the circuit’s banquet at the end of the season. Goals are critical, but know this: paying attention to the “getting there” makes all the difference on the way to your goals. Here are a few tips to make the most of the “getting there” in this year’s project: 1.…

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