By Steven Green Spring is in full swing. Pastures are green, calves are growing and everyone is enjoying some warmer weather. With the joys of fresh growth, comes anticipation of the greatest week of the summer. The Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE), is full steam ahead. This year Hereford youth will follow the tracks to Grand Island, Neb., and July 1-7 will hold its place in history as one of the largest and greatest youth livestock shows in history. Get prepared to meet more than 900 of America’s greatest youth who have come together for one purpose. They and their families will tend to approximately 1,500 head of Hereford cattle. However, competing is just the tip of the iceberg.
The showring will host the very best of the Hereford breed, but even greater things are happening behind the scenes. After the dust settles, the week begins with board candidate and scholarship interviews. Cattle check-in comes soon after with ease as another year of stamped registration papers makes everyone happy. Later, the Hereford Pen-to-Pen program will debut and queen’s orientation wraps up an exciting first day. I hope everyone is training hard for the 5K run first thing Monday morning. Following the race is a full day of Hereford bowl, CHB grill-off, Queen’s Tea and an exciting new opening ceremony. Tuesday brings the judging contest, so have your pencils and minds sharp. Speech contests and the fitting contest are followed by a membership meeting that we welcome all juniors to attend. During this meeting, the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) board of directors will give updates and reports. Also join voting delegates to see NJHA board candidates give their campaign speeches.
Wednesday is showmanship day. Be aware of class breakdowns and get to the ring on time for your class. Come back to the showring Wednesday evening to watch the fierce competition in senior showmanship finals and hear an educational presentation from our title sponsor BioZyme® Inc. Thursday will bring a busy day of showing cow-calf pairs, steers, bred-and-owned bulls and heifers. Friday and Saturday wrap up our week with the owned heifer show.
Once JNHE starts, the week can fly by at the blink of an eye. Be sure to take the time to look over the schedule and plan ahead. The NJHA board is pumped up and ready to kick off a great junior national. NJHA continues to evolve and there are new and exciting events happening during our time in Grand Island. The junior board has worked diligently to keep improving the JNHE. Opening ceremonies will be different this year with group classes incorporated. We hope you enjoy the change of pace.
My favorite part of JNHE is seeing friends from across the country. The conversations we have and memories made are worth every mile driven. There are few opportunities to network with as many motivated and talented people like those found at JNHE. Take advantage of this situation and have lots of fun meeting someone new. I also encourage you to sign up for a speech contest or even get a team together for the CHB grill-off. Getting out of your comfort zone may be an uneasy feeling but is highly rewarding. Competing in 4-H, FFA and Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) speech contests helped me break out of my shell. I remember my favorite speech memory like it was yesterday. I was a junior in high school and thirty minutes from presenting a prepared speech to judges and a crowd during the KFB outstanding youth contest. I was going through my cards one by one trying to stay calm and then came the curve ball. An FFA advisor walked up beside me, took my cards, and gave a warm smile as she walked away. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but now I can’t thank her enough for taking those cards. The moment I stepped up to give that speech defined who I am today. I hope you find the threshold of your comfort zone this year at the 2018 JNHE and step across it.
We look forward to seeing you in Grand Island. All Aboard the Hereford Express! This article originally appeared in “The Advantage” – The National Junior Hereford Association Newsletter – Spring 2018. To download this newsletter, click below.