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3 Things I Learned as a Member of the NJHA

3 Things I Learned as a Member of the NJHA

June 28, 2019

By Taylor Belle Matheny To the lucky ones who are reading this that feel like they have plenty of Junior National Hereford Expos (JNHE) left, I can assure you it may seem like a lot, …

By Taylor Belle Matheny

To the lucky ones who are reading this that feel like they have plenty of Junior National Hereford Expos (JNHE) left, I can assure you it may seem like a lot, but I promise you time is going to fly by. It seemed like my dad always had the classic line when I was growing up, “Time flies when you are having fun.” Fun is an understatement, but unfortunately it has flown by. I have enjoyed everything that being a member of the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) has offered me and if given the choice to do it again, I would say yes every time. As I approach my last JNHE as a junior member, I want to share some of the lessons I have learned over the years.

  1. Appreciate the job that isn’t always fun

    I feel like if you grow up showing cattle there is always one job you don’t like doing. For me it was anything that had to do with mulch. Bedding the barn or bedding the trailer were never my idea of fun and I always tried to make my brother do the bulk of the work. The thought of having shavings in my shoes on a hot Kentucky day still makes me cringe. It seemed as if neither of us liked it, so a majority of our time was spent contemplating the work rather than getting it done. But as I help clean the trailer and pack it one last time, I wish there were a few more summers to have shavings in my shoes. I was able to learn that even though a job isn’t fun it has to be done to keep things moving along. I am confident many of you have that one dreaded job you can relate to. When you get into college or find your first real job, there are going to be tasks that you don’t want to do, but you know they need to get done, so you do them anyway. I encourage you to always do the task that you don’t want to, now, as a junior and in life. Before you know it you will be bedding the barn one last spring and that job won’t seem so bad anymore. You might even end up liking it.

  2. Make friends

    I remember where we were tied in the barn at the JNHE in Kansas City, Mo. I got back from helping my dad wash and my mom told me a girl from Oklahoma had come to introduce herself. Mom then told me the story about how she knew the girl’s parents and that they told her to come say hi to me. Being a little shy, I went over and told Miranda ‘Hi’ and introduced myself. By the end of the week we were the best of friends and kept in touch by sending letters until the next year’s JNHE. Each year since then, Miranda and I have always been so excited to see each other to catch up for the week and to have our annual Mexican dinner with both our families. It is funny how life works because this fall we get to be roommates in grad school. I encourage you to go meet new friends and stay in touch. Miranda and I didn’t have phones so we kept in touch the old fashioned way, but with technology it is so much easier to talk to friends now then a few years ago. I am lucky the NJHA has given me friendships and I can assure you it can do the same for you. Take time at Herefords on the Hill to make a friendship with someone who shares the same passion for cattle as you.

  3. Cherish time spent with your family

    Some years you get lucky and the JNHE is close to home and other years you are headed 24 hours for the best week of summer. I can remember as a kid packing up to go to the JNHE and the excitement it brought. We would pile in our farm truck, Mom would hand us breakfast sandwiches and off we went to make new memories. There are so many fun times  I remember traveling with my family that include laughing at a joke, watching a movie in the backseat with my brother and Mom letting us get a snack at the gas station we weren’t allowed to have at home. I unfortunately don’t get to travel to another JNHE with my parents and brother to haul the cattle. Last summer I was in Texas for an internship and this summer I am working from home and won’t get to help make the long trek out to Denver as I will be flying. I really do cherish those memories — though simple, they had such an influence on my time as a member of the NJHA. Before you know it your sibling could be one of your best friends and a road trip with your family will be one of the most enjoyable experiences packed away in your memories. I have learned through our summer trips that family time helps shape you into the person you will one day become. Cherish the times in the truck, even when your sibling is taking up more than their share of the backseat. Store away these memories as you reflect back on the best summers of your life showing Hereford cattle.

It is hard to believe we are two weeks away from flooding Denver with Hereford cattle, but I am ready for another week with Hereford friends and making it a week to remember. I have learned so many things growing up in the NJHA and appreciate everything the program has taught me along the way. These memories will last a lifetime!