In honor of National 4-H Week (October 2-8), I thought it might be interesting to take a trip into the past. Thanks to trying to help my own children complete their 4-H Record Books for this year, I dug up my old 4-H Record Books this fall. So, when I started to think about what to blog in honor of a truly amazing organization, I decided to go back in history.

In 1997, I wrote the following story to complete my 4-H Record Books. This was the start of my first year of college at UNL and I was much more mature than I had been just a few months ago as a high school senior, so bear that in mind as you join me in this trip into the past. 🙂

The Cattle in My Life
Oftentimes, people talk of the men in their lives. Naturally, I have had many important and special people around me as I grew, but as I look into the past, I realize that many of these people and their influence was because of cattle and 4-H. Showing cattle has been in my life for many years. In fact, since the young age of seven, if you didn’t do anything with cattle, you could say good-bye to me in the spring and not expect to see me until the school year started next fall. This may have been a help or hindrance in my development as a well-rounded human being, but I felt that it broadened my horizons tremendously as I was able to see that life doesn’t have to revolve around sports.

Being from a small town, naturally I still played softball every summer and even coached for a few years, but if there was a game or practice on the same day as a cattle show, the cattle took priority. As my High School years became more and more busy, I wondered why I chose to spend so much time working with cattle, when it wasn’t exactly the popular thing to do. I am now meeting people that may not have been the jock in their school, but sure could show a steer. I’m no longer alone in thinking that rodeos are awesome and that going to the State Fair and Ak-Sar-Ben is a really great time.

I have shown a variety of steers and heifers throughout my life, many of these have been crazy and many of these have been pets. If you ever want to learn the quality of patience, I suggest trying to lead a stubborn 1,400 pound animal around in a circle. Sometimes, it is impossible to get them to move and if you’re by yourself, you have no choice but to continue pulling on them, and waiting until they’re ready to move. There are many virtues and values that you can learn from cattle and 4-H. Hard work doesn’t begin to describe the lessons. Every day, even in the summer, I had to feed my cattle at 6:30 in the morning. If you try this yourself as a high school senior, you will realize how often you just want to sleep. To show cattle takes many different talents. You first have to train the calves and get them to trust you. When you enter the ring, you and the calf are on display. The Judge looks at the balance and style of the calf among other things. He also looks at how you show as you compete in the Showmanship contest.

To be continued tomorrow in Part 2….

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