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What you SHOULD be doing at junior nationals

What you SHOULD be doing at junior nationals


Your heifer or gilt obviously plays a critical role while at the show all week in Springfield, Grand Island, Des Moines, Madison, Lexington, Louisville, Stillwater, or St. Paul. But what are YOU doing in the time you’re not spending with a halter or pig whip in hand? May I offer some suggestions?

Meet new people. You never know who is in the stalls or pens nearby. They might be from the next county over in your home state or live a few hundred miles from you. They might be your future classmate in college, a fellow intern during your undergraduate years, or the friend you never knew you needed. You’ll never know unless you go find out. So say “hi”, introduce yourself, and get to know them.

Cheer on your friends. Support your squad. They’re participating in shows and all sorts of contests. Wish them good luck. Tell them they’ve got this. Offer sincere congratulations. And not just at the stalls – actually go to the ring and watch, sit in on their speech, and check out their poster. Better yet if you can do so for someone younger than you. Be part of someone’s village.

Visit with industry partners. You’re at the same event all week as some really good people from some great companies and organizations. Rather than only stopping by for the “freebies”, take advantage of the chance to really learn about their company, inquire about internships and other opportunities for students, and meet the folks representing the company brand.

Enjoy time with family. You might have argued on the way out about where to stop for lunch or gotten a little frustrated during load-in, but trust me, these are the moments where memories are made. Enjoy the time with your parents. Realize how special this time is with your siblings. Be thankful for what my friend Jennie calls her “barn family” and appreciate the time you have together.

Say “yes” to opportunities. This is not the week to stay glued to your pens. “Want to go check out the trade show?” Yes. “Want to do the fitting contest with me?” Yes. “Would you help me practice my speech?” Yes. “Want to go get a sweet tea?” Yes. Let your default answer be “yes” and at the end of the week, you’ll find yourself with new friends, great memories, and one fantastic junior national experience.

Marlene Eick is a storyteller and coach. As co-owner of Herdmark Media, she helps businesses in agriculture tell their story. As a leadership and career coach, she helps people discover the stories within themselves.

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