November 22, 2016
Angus Convention Don't Count Yourself Out!
From the Indiana Angus Tour all the way to the crowning of 2017 Miss American Angus, this year's Angus Convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana had a little something for everyone. Although it's an event aimed for the over 25,000 adult members of our association, NJAA members shouldn't count themselves out! There were a lot of experiences at the convention that could help members at any level gain more knowledge about the industry. For example, I attended a portion of the Angus 101 seminar at the Angus Booth in the trade show. The seminar went over information such as how to register animals and acceptable forms of permanent identification. The seminar would be beneficial to young or new association members, it was also a good refresher for long-time members of the Business Breed.
New to this year’s convention was the cattle judging contest, although it was a smaller-scale contest compared to the NJAS cattle judging contest there were two age groups that NJAA members could have participated in, with potential to win great prizes. It was a lot of fun and would be right up the alley of anyone interested in livestock judging. Throughout the trade show there were also many companies that offer internships for college students. It was a great place to stop and talk with the representatives of the companies about the opportunities they have for you and the career you are pursuing. As an NJAA member you already have the opportunity to stand out to potential employers in the agricultural industry because of the reputation NJAA has established for itself as being a program that produces strong leaders.
Most importantly, I think the Angus Convention also provided NJAA members the opportunity to see the Angus industry beyond the show-ring. Something I notice every now and then is that sometimes we as NJAA members get tunnel vision as we seem to get caught up in the competition that Angus shows provide. I'm not saying that exhibiting cattle isn't important to the development of us as young leaders in the agriculture industry, what I'm stressing is the importance of our NJAA members being diverse in what we experience in the Angus industry.
On the first day of convention I participated in the Indiana Angus Tour where I and other attendees had the chance to see many different cattle operations, all of which were unique in how they were set up and operated. The tour allowed me to widen my perspective a bit, just like attending the convention would do for my fellow NJAA members. The tour was also a reminder that no two cattle operations are the same and everyone adapts to the conditions they are working with, capitalizing within their niche. In addition to the tour I felt that all Association members, juniors and adults, could benefit greatly from the cattle handling demonstrations. Since most of us as juniors are just starting out in the cattle industry it gives us the chance to start handling your cattle in a way that is safer and less stressful on the animal while accomplishing our purpose.
During the convention five fellow NJAA members competed for the coveted title of Miss American Angus. The public audience is invited to watch their prepared speeches on one evening of the convention. Attendees get a chance to listen in on speeches by each of the contestants as part of the competition. If you have interest in being a future Miss American Angus listening to their speeches at convention would be a great learning experience and give you an idea of how to prepare yourself for the competition.
This year was the second year I attended the Angus convention. Each time there is something new to learn, someone new to meet. In fact I had the opportunity to meet my mentor from the Angus Auxiliary’s new mentoring program that began this year, which wouldn’t have happened elsewhere as we live states away from each other. The first time I attended the convention was as a contestant for the Miss American Angus competition. Although the competition is a once in a lifetime opportunity, at the time I also assumed that attending the convention was something I might not get the chance to do again. I’m glad I was wrong about that, but it served as a reminder to not take things for granted. I’m thankful that the first time I experienced the convention I treated it like it was something I’d never get to do again because it pushed me to want to get even more out of the experience. Although the second time around I had amazing time learning more about the industry and engaging with producers, I noticed that I didn’t have the awestruck feeling I had the first time I attended. I had to remind myself not to take the experience for granted and to make the most out of it. I’m not alone in feeling this way, for instance it’s something we’ve probably experienced when attending NJAS and LEAD for several years in a row. Although we are grateful and thankful for those experiences, sometimes we just can’t help taking things for granted, it’s human nature. What helped me is reminding myself to treat those experiences as once in a lifetime opportunities, even if we already know there is a high likelihood of attending the event year after year. During the convention I needed to actively remind myself to treat it like a once in a lifetime experience so that I pushed myself to get the most out of it. A quote came across my social media the other day by Dr. Seuss that might help explain more of what I’m talking about, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” I think the quote just points out that it’s hard to realize the value of an experience as you're as it’s happening, and if you know it will happen again. Especially with the holiday season coming up, don’t take anything for granted. Treat Thanksgiving dinner or gathering around the Christmas tree with your family like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Be thankful, be humble, and make the most out of every moment. Next year's convention is in Fort Worth, Texas and I hope to see more NJAA members and youth make plans to attend the event!
I wish you all the best this holiday season,