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Wyatt, left, and Montana Lawrence are serving on the Junior National Hereford Association Board. Montana was elected to the board in 2018 at the JNHE in Grand Island, Neb. Wyatt was just elected at the JNHE in Denver in July. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)

It takes a village to support young farmers

I always have had mixed emotions about the statement "It takes a village." I think about all the people that move in and out of your lives during the course of time, and I have contemplated the meaning of that statement and whether or not is it truly accurate. That being said, I did recently experience a version of this statement and wanted to share with you the significance of having an infrastructure in your life.

Farming can be a very lonely endeavor. There are countless hours spent in a tractor all alone, feeding livestock, checking fields with no company or conversation. Sometimes that solitude is embraced and appreciated as a time to think about the future and plan for what might come next. Other times it can be desolate and overwhelming.

Earlier this month, my family had the pleasure of making our annual trek to the Junior National Hereford Expo. This year it was held in Denver. For the first time, this trip did look and feel a bit different.

Our daughter is currently serving on the Junior National Hereford Board, and for that reason, would fly out early to help facilitate the event. We would be short one in the truck and in the barn. Additionally, our oldest son decided to throw his hat in the ring and would be a candidate for the Junior Board throughout the week, in hopes of claiming his own maroon jacket alongside his sister. This meant we would be down another man in the barn for the week. He would be busy campaigning.

We have always believed as parents that it is essential to encourage and endorse opportunity to strive for more. We have supported our kids in all of their pursuits as we believe it is an essential part of who they will become. However, in all pursuits there is always sacrifice. Junior National Hereford Expo would require that very thing from everyone in our family this year. My two youngest sons, my husband and myself would spend more time caring for cattle so the older two could meet their obligations. It would prove a challenging task for all, as my older two missed time in the barn, and the younger two could not wait to get out of it.

More importantly, all the support we received from our state and neighboring states for our children was quite humbling. Everyone was willing to lend a hand if needed, and most, if not all, were so verbally supportive of the whole process.

We, as parents, experienced that sense of extended family the entire week we were there. Every summer we look forward to reuniting with those we show cattle with and catching up on all the happenings of the past few months. Our time together in the barns and showing cattle is what gives us a place to relate to one another and know one another.

We call it our Hereford Family.

Everywhere we go, everyone we meet with Hereford cattle has a common bond and love for what they are doing and who they are doing it with. In fact, my third son would meet two young people from New Jersey, who are both attending the college he will be attending in the fall. Despite the long distance, and never having met before, they sought him out, introduced themselves, and offered sanctuary to him in the coming months, as he will be so far away from home. That's family.

At the end of this week, my son would be elected to the Junior Board to serve alongside his sister, making them the second brother/sister team to serve on the board. I am so very proud of them both and what they have chosen to represent. I look forward to watching them serve the junior members of our great association, and I am thankful for all the support, as I know they did not get there alone. It took a village.