July 24 2023 09:53 AM

You might never know who considers you to be a role model, so always strive to be your best self.

A question asked quite often in an interview is, “Who is your role model?” When my sister Salem was recently running for the National Junior Hereford Association Junior Board, she was asked that same question. She came back from the interview and told us that she had said my name. To say the least, I was in shock. We are only two years apart in age, which means we have spent most of our time together arguing and competing against each other. She has proven to be better than me in many things, so I couldn’t help but think, “Why on earth did you choose your older sister as your role model?”

I have two points for telling this story. First, we could be anyone’s role model at any time. No matter their age, people are looking for others to follow that they admire.

I know I have identified many of my role models through raising cattle. No one is looking for their role models to be perfect. The people who stood out to me were the ones who offered learning opportunities and a sense of belonging to the cattle industry. They were the ones offering the encouraging word before I walked into the showring or giving me advice on how to improve my cattle.

Salem later shared with me that during her explanation, she told the judges how I kept running for National Hereford Queen even though I did not get it the first year. She seemed to admire the drive and resilience I had. I had no idea that she was watching me that closely. None of us know who or when anyone is watching us.

It is not really important why Salem chose me. What’s important is that she chose me, and I didn’t even know she felt that way. This proves that role models can be chosen without the person even knowing they were picked. We can be busy with our daily lives and forget that others are watching what we do. It is important that, no matter what stage of life we are in, we continue to be the best person we can be in the hopes that we are being the best role model for someone else.

My second point is to be sure to say thank you. If you have a role model, share your appreciation with them. Even though we should always hold ourselves to a higher standard, it is a warm feeling to know someone looks up to you. Be sure to tell them how they made such a strong impact on your life; I am sure they would be glad to hear it.

Madison Sifford

Madison Sifford is the 2023 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern. She is a student at Virginia Tech majoring in dairy science and communications. Madison grew up in North Carolina before moving with her parents and sisters to Goldvein, Va. Her family raises Holsteins on their Plessed-Rose Dairy, and they also have a small Hereford cow-calf operation.