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The best way to represent others is to be yourself

We just returned from the Junior National Hereford Expo, the largest junior show in the country. It is held every July somewhere in the United States. There were 900 junior members in attendance, along with parents, 1,800 head of Hereford cattle ...

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When the winners of the Junior National Hereford Board are revealed, the retiring board member hands off their jacket to new board member in front of the entire delegation. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)
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We just returned from the Junior National Hereford Expo, the largest junior show in the country. It is held every July somewhere in the United States. There were 900 junior members in attendance, along with parents, 1,800 head of Hereford cattle and all the trailers and equipment to go with it.

I am always amazed at the number of people involved in this event - those who choose to travel the long distances to sit in a hot barn for a week for the sake of their children and their belief in cattle as an industry. It is truly a sight to see.

For us, the JNHE is generally a good time with friends and family. It is full of contests and showing at the highest level of competition. Our hope is always to fall somewhere in the middle of the pack on show day, maybe get called back for showmanship and compete in a couple of other contests to represent our state well. This year would prove to be quite different and potentially change the face of this show for us as a family for years to come.

Several months ago, our daughter approached my husband and I about applying to be a candidate for the Junior National Hereford Board. This board consists of 12 junior members from various regions across the U.S. who represent and facilitate events for the junior membership across the nation. Board members, if elected, serve on the board for three years.

Commitment is high, but so are the benefits and opportunities. We are aware of this, as my husband served as a director way back in the day. The idea of his daughter potentially serving was something that instantly made Papa proud - especially as she came to the decision all on her own. We, of course, encouraged her to pursue it and began the process to help her to meet application deadlines, meet recommendation deadlines and prepare for the interview.

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As the process continued we became aware of the odds very quickly. Thirteen candidates chose to run this year, and there were four spots available. The campaign itself takes place over the course of three days. It involves introductions, panel discussions, speeches and the painstaking effort of trying to connect with two voting delegates from every state in attendance. Sprinkled in among all this is the posting of flyers, stall displays and service to the existing board in whatever capacity they deem necessary. Time becomes very short.

My daughter decided that it was essential for her to be herself in this process. She adopted and adhered to most all of the standard procedures of the process but put her own spin on things, and that allowed her to highlight her true essence and goals as a director to serve the juniors. She met with every delegate, and, in the process, she had the opportunity to learn what they think and feel about the organization and where they would like it to go. It was a fabulous experience.

Best of all, during the awards ceremony, she was presented with a maroon jacket. A jacket she will wear for three years! A jacket given to her by the juniors who decided she was to be trusted to represent them. I am proud of her accomplishment. However I am thankful for who she is and who she will become. Montana Lawrence, Junior National Hereford Board of Director. It has a great ring to it.

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Related Topics: FARMINGFAMILYCATTLE
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