Why You Should Hire Stock Show Kids

My kids were up before the sun on Saturday morning.  It was a cold Oklahoma morning where the thin layer of iced, previously wet ground crunches under your feet and it seems like your breath is guiding your way through the dimly lit pasture.  No kid especially wants to be awake at 5:30 am on a frosty morning to rinse cattle, but they know the price for successful show days and they pay it over and over, willingly.

My children, and the children who are being raised alongside them in this industry, are going to be highly qualified in whatever field they choose.  Some of them will choose to work in Agriculture related fields.  Some of them will look elsewhere for their careers.  However, no matter what business you are running, if you see “FFA” or “Livestock Showing” listed on a resume or hear it mentioned in an interview you should know what that actually means.

Stock show kids will see things through – even when they don’t want to.  Saturday morning I helped my son in the wash rack, washing his heifer.  At one point I had to grab the metal bar to brace myself as I was sinking in the mud and my damp hand started to freeze to the cold metal.  That tells you how cold it was that morning, yet there he was, working his way through 3 heifers to get them all cleaned up and ready to present in the ring.  He was visibly miserable, but he did not stop until the job was finished. 

Stock show kids don’t cut corners.  Even though his hands were numb from the cold, and the mist from the water hose on his face felt like cold needles hitting it, my son knows he cannot do a poor job rinsing the shampoo from his calves’ hair.  If he doesn’t get it all out their skin gets dry and their hair doesn’t perform like it should.  Even when things are hard, these kids are willing to make sure things are completed with precision.  They understand that what they do right now directly affects outcomes later on.

Stock show kids think outside the box.  In the middle of that same freezing cold wash session, the shut off valve part of the hose attachment quit working.  I think as a kid, I would have run back into the barn and told my dad it wasn’t working and asked what to do.  Not my son.  He quickly found his own solution to the problem by getting a different part and attaching the hose to it.  He made it work.  He knows when to ask for help, but not before he’s given some thought to how he can fix the situation on his own.

Stock show kids can take orders.  Trust me on this one.  My husband loves my children fiercely and he is an amazing dad.  In the barn no one gets coddled, though.  On Saturday I watched my husband yell to our youngest over the noise of the blower to go retrieve something from the trailer, and then I watched her march quickly to it without question.  My kids are no stranger to taking directions and understand there are times when you just have to do what you are told – even at 6:00 am when you wish you were warm in bed still, and your dad is barking orders at you over the noise of the barn. 

Stock show kids understand team work.  On Saturday morning I stood at the wash rack with my son, getting cattle ready to be blow dried.  My son’s show friend, who voluntarily signed up to come help us at this show, led cattle back to the barn.  My husband blow dried while my daughter went back and forth fetching things, loading hay, and doing whatever she was told.  These kids show on their own in the ring, but trust me they understand it takes a whole team of people to make these show days happen, and they understand the importance of working together.

Most of the stock show kids I see in these show arenas are exceptional.  If you are not in this industry you probably do not understand the gem you may have found by having a former livestock show kid in the chair across from you looking for employment.  Whether it is a summer job or a career position, I would just almost bet the traits you will find in a person who grew up in the agriculture industry will supersede those of someone who did not.  As a person who did not grow up in it, I say that with a lot of certainty, as I have watched in awe the characteristics it has instilled in my own children.  These people are willing to work hard, they are teachable, they are humble, they are good teammates, and they are dependable.  Most of them have experienced what it means to have another life dependent on their performance since the age of eight or nine years old; they understand responsibility on a level most people do not.

I watched the sun come up behind our barn Saturday morning before our local show, with a soundtrack of cattle blowers whirring and my children bustling around to prepare for the day’s events.  I had to take a minute to just be thankful for the life we are living and the way they are being raised.  I hope you get the chance to work with one of these stock show kids someday – it is truly a privilege. 


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