When I was little I started showing cattle. Then, my family began traveling to Jr. Nationals, and as I have gotten older I have begun to run for leadership positions within the organization. This past summer I was fortunate enough to be elected as president of the American Gelbvieh Jr. Association, and although I hope that I can be a positive influence on the junior members, I am certain that I have learned so much more from them than I will ever be able to repay. So here goes, things I have learned from kids much younger than me.
- There is no problem that a water balloon fight cannot fix.
When you have had a long day in the barn and participating in contests, the last thing you want to do is get hit by a hurling water balloon, but I promise that a water balloon fight with laughing, screaming 10 year olds is the best way to make a long day better. Their smiles are contagious and pretty soon you find yourself getting way too into the fight yourself!
- Don’t be afraid to try new things.
At Jr. Nationals there are several contests that our members can participate in, and as intimidating as it seems, all the juniors love them. If elementary and middle school age kids can try things that push them outside of their comfort zones, and encourage their friends to do the same, then I have to at least try. Just because you try something new doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it, the real battle is trying it the first time.
- Be Confident in Yourself
One of my favorite memories from Jr. Nationals this year was when I was taking photos at check in. I asked this girl, who is about 12, if she was going to participate in all the contests and she looked at me and said “I’m going to win all-around this year!” This is the confidence you need to have to be successful. If you believe in yourself, nothing can hold you back.
- Appreciate the Little Things
As I have gotten older, I find myself getting caught up in things like winning my class and division at shows instead of focusing on the real triumphs, like seeing my friends and having fun! Yes, you go to compete, but at the end of the day the memories you make outside the show ring with your friends are what keep dragging your family to Jr. Nationals, not the possibility of that belt buckle.
This is just a short list of the things I have learned, there are lots more, but as you read this I hope you think about things that you have learned from kids much younger than yourself.