October 1, 2021
by Hannah Pearson, NJHA Director
The fall season is upon us as days grow shorter, gold, orange and red tones adorn treetops and the green grass now waves gold across the pastures. The changing temperatures mean most of my free time is spent helping with the cattle. Fall on the ranch is my favorite time of year. I love the many colors mother nature chooses to paint the land, watching mama cows start putting on their winter coats and hearing the bawl of freshly weaned calves echo through the crisp air. At the top of the list, there’s something about the changing temperatures that gets me excited to look for a new show heifer. It’s a bitter-sweet time, combining the excitement of looking for a new heifer along with the sadness of sending last year’s show heifers out to grass to become cows.
Thinking about the changes fall brings, compares to the changes we go through in our own lives as we move from young showmen to taking on leadership roles in an organization such as the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA). As leaders we must grow and move from away from our safe spaces, by reflecting on our past, growing from those experiences and then looking towards the future with a vision of how to improve.
Growing up, I remember falling asleep to the sound of calves bawling the first night dad brought them home at weaning time. Weaning is an exciting time, with the opportunity to give the calves a great start by supplying them with the resources to help them to reach their genetic potential. This compares to the growth that happens in our personal lives. The producer utilizes the best management practices and animal health protocols to benefit each calf. The NJHA is much like the producer and has worked to find the best programs to benefit all its members, offering opportunities to grow as contestants, advocates for agriculture and to grow as leaders within the breed. As members we all have to go from our safe spaces and venture out in order to show growth.
I enjoy evaluating genetics and how they will compliment my herd, then picking through the prospects in the fall to find the right one for my operation. The selection process gives me a chance to build a strong future, not only for my show career, but as I build my herd, mimicking how I will build a strong future for myself. As a leader, I have learned that an important building block of my future is the people I surround myself with and the relationships I make. By establishing and nurturing these relationships I have learned to work as a team, be open for a variety of ideas and communicate with others to improve the outcome.
Every year when I retire my previous show heifer, I get a little sad. You put in hundreds of hours with her, going through ups and downs and learning different life lessons. As that heifer turns into a cow and I check on her in the pasture I think about all the great lessons I have learned that I could use to make myself a better showman. This hold true in leadership roles as well and I encourage all NJHA members to look back on the past and take what you have learned to improve for a brighter future and be the best leaders you can be.