Nov. 8 2022 08:00 AM

I hope showing cattle will always provide youth with the opportunities it did for me.

One of my favorite years at the state fair was when my county won the herdsmanship award.

For many people who grew up in the dairy industry, showing dairy cattle was a staple of that experience. Involvement in organizations such as 4-H and FFA allow kids to not only develop essential skills but to also gain experiences through showing animals. I think many would agree with me when I say that showing livestock teaches valuable lessons, such as how to work hard, to never give up, to understand how to lose and win, and many more.

Showing was intimidating for me to take on as a young girl who happened to gain these experiences through working on her neighbor’s dairy farm. However, the more time I spent practicing and learning everything I could, I gained confidence and created many years of fun memories.

My best friend and I were always showing for fun. We never had the fanciest cattle or the best show genetics, but that never mattered because we had the best time being ridiculously tired and spending time with the animals we loved so dearly. Don’t get me wrong, we prided ourselves in our showmanship skills and ability to maintain a clean barn aisle. We worked hard toward our goals, but we never felt bad when we ended up toward the bottom of a class. This attitude was carried forward as my entire county worked together to show at the state fair. It was an interesting experience to work besides the people I just competed against at the county fair, but we still had so much fun.

Recently I have been able to observe from the outside now that my youth showing days are behind me. I’ve noticed counties at the state fair who refuse to work together. Each person watches after their own cattle, and that is all. This really puzzled me. While I was showing, we always cared for the other animals as if they were our own. Even if we did not succeed, we still cheered on others who found that success.

My hope for the future of showing is that the tradition I experienced of teamwork, humility, and perseverance continues on through showing cattle. Those times waking up at three in the morning didn’t even faze me some days, because I always knew that the others in my group had my back and we would all work together. I hope there will always be a place in the ring for the kids who are there to have fun and learn life lessons, rather than showing only to take home the trophies.

Mikayla Peper

Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper served as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.