September 2018. My freshman year of high school, and my first year as Vice President of our FFA chapter conducting team. Those familiar with the event know the amount of work that goes into it. Opening ceremonies alone took the entirety of freshman year to learn, but now they’re so engraved into my mind that I could probably recite them in my sleep. There’s always been one part that sticks out to me the most: At the end of opening ceremonies after I have confirmed that all other officers are at their stations, the advisor asks, “Madame President, why do you keep a plow at your station?”, to which I respond, “The plow is the symbol of labor and tillage of the soil. Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much. My duties require me to assist at all times in directing the work of our organization. I preside over meetings in the absence of our president, whose place is beneath the rising sun.”
Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much. Simple statement, powerful meaning. This response is proclaiming that labor is most likely the single most important factor that determines how much we achieve, and I couldn’t agree more. Having wisdom and intelligence is great, but what purpose do they serve if we don’t utilize them? It’s impossible to reach our greatest potential without the motivation to toil for it. This principle applies to every activity that we participate in, whether agriculture related or not.
Many worthwhile youth activities instill positive character traits. However, I believe that the junior livestock show industry is the most efficient at integrating responsibility, determination, confidence, leadership, sportsmanship and work ethic into a single package. The work ethic that is required simply to participate, let alone succeed, is the glue that binds the other traits together.
This is what sets stock show kids apart from the rest. We work hard on our projects from an early age, so that showing up early and staying late is second nature by the time we are young adults. We have a drive to succeed that outweighs our desire to sleep in just a little longer. We don’t bat an eye at waking up at 5 AM to feed our projects, or complete any other chores that have to be done before we head off to school. We look forward to the shows, but only because we know we’ve put in the work to make attending a show worth it. We have a love for this industry that makes the hard work not really feel like work at all, and all the while these activities are forming us into the leaders of the future that our country will need. For all these reasons, we would do it all over again if given the chance…and this is why we show.