Some good things
May 10, 2018
At every turn there seems to be nothing but negative news. It doesn't matter whether there is some fabricated crisis about President Trump, there is a natural disaster somewhere, or another inane protest about trampling on the Constitution. After awhile, all this negativity begins to wear on one.
That is why it is refreshing to see something positive. I spent parts of the last two weekends doing just that. There were two youth livestock shows, one in Fallon and the other in Reno.
My kids and now grandkids have long participated in these events. However, it doesn't take long for even a newcomer to be impressed. I met such a person at the Reno show and we had a long, productive conversation about the event.
Participation in these shows are 4-H, Grange, and FFA members. Ages range from 9 to 18. They come from all walks of life. There are more animals brought to these shows that were raised in backyards than on farms. The participants exhibit various animal species ranging from rabbits to steers.
A walk around the pens behind the show ring you can see kids hard at work preparing their animals to show their attributes the best they can. But the effort goes much longer.
These projects offer many life learning experiences. The first is patience. Some exhibitors raise their own animals from birth, but most purchase them from elsewhere. Nonetheless, they own their animal for at least four months. That is much longer in the case of a steer. Regardless, there is no shortcut. They must wait until the animal is ready for the show in order to realize a return on their efforts.
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They also learn responsibility. Their animals must be fed daily and more often twice daily. That must happen rain or shine, cold weather or warm. They must assure their charges have fresh water, bedding, and good health. A sick animal can result in a large monetary loss.
They learn fiscal skills. They must complete a record book compiling income and expenses for their project. Hopefully this year's project will garner enough return to invest in next year's animals. Oh, wait, isn't that a concept of capitalism?
They learn sportsmanship. They compete against each other. There can only be one winner in each group. More times than not the lower finishers will shake the judge's hand as they exit the ring. Then you hear them congratulate the winner behind the show ring.
They learn cooperation. They belong to clubs that have adult supervision. This is where they learn the skills needed to feed, care for, and prepare their animal for show. It is common to see older children helping out the younger ones.
There is another huge component of the show that often goes undermentioned — the buyers who attend the sale to purchase these animals, usually at prices much higher than market. There are first-time buyers as well as those who have attended sales every year for decades. These buyers are usually retailers, suppliers, contractors, and other businesses.
I won't mention any by name, being at risk of omitting someone. You will see in a later LVN issue an ad listing and thanking these buyers. However, know they are appreciated. I have asked buyers why they support the shows. Their response is usually something like, "The kids deserve the support," or, "They work hard for this." That is a manifestation of a larger concept. They know these kids are the country's future. The experiences they are getting now will serve well later in life. And these businesspeople are willing to help.
That is why these buyers willingly support the kids. No one forces them to show up at the sale. They do it because they understand the importance of investing back to the youth and the community. That support is rarely abused. There have been uncountable trade schools or college courses paid for by savings from these projects.
So in this age of constant negativism stemming from the political scene, it is refreshing and rejuvenating to see a sector of our youth learning life skills that, in my opinion, aren't seen enough or taught enough. To have the business community solidly behind them is nothing short of great.
So thank you to the buyers, the people who work to put these shows on, the volunteer leaders who all make this happen. My faith in the country is restored. Make America great.
Tom Riggins' column appears every other Friday. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.