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Learning life skills through Junior Nationals

Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 12:35 p.m. CDT

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As I get ready to go to the Shorthorn and Simmental Junior Nationals this year, which are both in Louisville, Ky., I think back to all the life skills I learned through the different contests.

At both events, I will have the opportunity to participate in livestock judging, showmanship, public speaking, sales talk and cattlemen’s quiz/quiz bowl. All of these contests have their own way of preparing me for my future.

Livestock judging can be difficult at first, but I was able to quickly catch on by participating in livestock judging in 4-H. In livestock judging I place four animals from the one I like the most to the one I like the least. With placing them, I also have to answer questions about the animals and give a set of oral reasons on why I placed the class the way I did.

The judging part and answering the questions helps teach me to pay attention to details, and the oral reasons help me with public speaking. When I am older, I hope to judge livestock at shows like the Shorthorn and Simmental Junior Nationals, so this will help me to become a better judge.

Showmanship is another great contest because it is a competition everyone can participate in. Showmanship is where you take your animal out and you show how well you can show the animal. The judge will also ask you questions to see how much you know about that animal.

This contest has taught me to be ready for anything because you never know what questions the judge may ask. It has also taught me how to stay focused and to concentrate because I have to make sure that my animal looks good, and at the same time know where the judge is standing in the ring.

Public speaking is different at the two nationals, and both ways have benefited me in different ways. At the Shorthorn Junior National the speech is a prepared speech that I can write before I get to the contest. This helps prepare me for the future by showing me how to prepare a speech for talking in front of crowds.

On the other hand, at the Simmental Junior Nationals, the public speaking is an extemporaneous speech where I am given a choice of three topics, and I have 30 minutes to prepare the speech and then give it to two or three judges. This helps prepare me for the future by helping me to be able to quickly write a speech and give to a crowd if needed. I have easily learned that by doing both types of the contests it has been easier to talk in class or to our school.

Sales talk is another contest that is a little different between the two national shows, but it all has the same theory — you try to sell the calf. At Shorthorn Junior Nationals, I work with a teammate to sell the animal, so it is both of us putting in our own parts to it, which helps me learn and build teamwork skills. Whereas, at the Simmental Junior Nationals, I work by myself to sell the animal, and this teaches me how to talk to other people in the industry and it will help me when I’m older with my salesmanship.

The cattlemen’s quiz/quiz bowl helps me in a few different ways. It teaches me about each breed individually. Also, it helps me to study and be sharp with different general questions on cattle, so that when I am older, I know these facts and don’t have to always call someone. I will also know the right information when others ask questions about different breeds.

These contests teach me lots of great things and prepare me for the future, but one of the greatest rewards I get out of going to cattle shows like these are the friends and people I meet. I look forward to mentoring my brothers when they are old enough to do these contests, so that they can gain the same life skills I have learned over the years.

Clay Sundberg will be a freshman at LaMoille High School this fall. He helps raise cattle on his family’s farm in Arlington.

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