Nov. 26 2013 02:24 PM

But, please don't send me the bill!

Girl with JerseyThis time of year, many reflect on what they are grateful for – family, friends and their health. Younger people often think of it as the Christmas warm-up event. For those youngsters in the dairy industry, it is the end of the show and judging seasons. (But, really they have already started thinking about next year.) While at this point in their lives, their experiences are fun, but later in life the thankfulness will reach its full depth.

Children generally are involved in 4-H, FFA, breed associations, sports, school and church groups. These groups become their friends, peers and teammates. Through involvement they learn responsibility, patience and teamwork. That could be building a float for a parade, crafting the perfect topline, participating on a judging team, or helping a younger person learn a new skill. These talents are indeed special and not everyone possesses them.

But, at what cost were these learning experiences? Parents took time from their schedules to transport kids to meetings or practices. Volunteers took their time to coach youth or to organize events where they competed. Generous sponsors donate their time and often financially, so the events are more affordable for all. Those are the time costs.

Some youth are the recipients of Grandpa or Grandma's generosity, with a calf to show. Or maybe an uncle has a barn where the youth keeps their project animal because they don't have a facility. That friendly neighbor who generously shares their clipping chute, blower and clipping supplies. If those items were purchased, the "learning experience" now includes capital investments.

But, think for a moment…If every child had a personal driver and expense account for their activities, how would that look? Things like gas to go to meetings, a new show halter for the fair, a new pair of boots for showmanship, monies to attend conferences, lodging at fairs, meals at events… that list could go on for pages. Calculating those numbers would make most dizzy and many to wonder where did all that money come from that was spent on "learning" and "fun activities."

But, then again, many consider fairs and conventions as their form of family vacations. Others may go to Florida for summer, while your family chooses the county fair. Some kids may get dirt bikes for gifts, but others are happier with a newborn calf to pick from the barn. One is not better than the other, it is what makes each of us happy.

The smile of success, a tear when a long-earned victory is captured, the concentration of the task at hand, and the camaraderie of friends – the priceless memories to be thankful for. Enjoy the video below with some youth scenes from the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky. There are also links to dairy judging and dairy bowl videos here.

So, take this time of year to be thankful for those who provide you with the things that don't fit in a box… their time, talents and treasures. Happy Thanksgiving!
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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.