I began showing livestock my sophomore year of high school. I am now a freshman in college, and I have recently purchased pigs for another show season. When I was eight years old, I joined 4-H and began showing horses.
I still work with horses, but I only stuck with showing them through 4-H until my junior year of high school due to an injury my horse had that prevented us from competing. I continued showing pigs and I will continue showing pigs as long as I can through FFA. The livestock show industry has taught me many lessons and I will forever be thankful for them. I can confidently say that I will carry these lessons with me for the rest of my life and apply them to different things, such as school or work. Five of the lessons that the livestock show industry has taught me are:
When caring for several animals at a time, responsibility is one of the first lessons that you will learn. Being in charge of when my pigs get their feed and water, when they get their stalls cleaned, or when they get washed and walked taught me many lessons, but responsibility is the most prominent. You can never slack when it comes to your livestock because they rely on you for their basic needs, such as food and water. This applies to many other things besides livestock. Taking responsibility for different things will teach you much more than just how to be responsible.
How you carry yourself when you win and when you lose is extremely important in many different aspects. When it comes to the livestock show industry, many people are observing you as you show. And when the judge comes to their decision and goes to give a slap or shake a hand, your response to that can be interpreted in different ways. I have been at both ends of the spectrum, I have received the winning handshake but I have also been last in the class and watched someone else receive the winning handshake. This industry has taught me how to endure the highs and the lows that life will throw my way. I feel as though I have been able to handle many different things with maturity and poise and that is something that is incredibly important in the livestock show industry and in many different parts of life.
Becoming dedicated to something and staying dedicated to that same thing can be difficult. But with livestock, I have never had trouble staying dedicated to my projects. Being able to watch my show pigs grow and develop as we inched closer to the county fair and the state fair is one of the most rewarding things ever. I would not have been able to do so if I would not have been dedicated to my show pig project. The statement “hard work pays off” is incredibly true and I discovered that this year at my county fair and at the state fair. Livestock projects take up a lot of time, but they are worth it in every way. Being dedicated to my show pig project has taught me how to dedicate myself to my schoolwork or to my job.
- How to prioritize
During the summer, it is hard to not want to go out to county fairs or concerts or to just hang out with your friends. But when you are involved with livestock, you learn quickly how to prioritize different things in your life so that you can still go and do the fun things. Even though some nights in the barn tended to be longer than others, prioritizing is always important so that you can manage your time better. During the summer, or whenever I have my show pigs, my pigs always come first. I have learned through this that the fun things will come second because there are always more important things.
Taking charge of an activity or anything in your life can be empowering and can also be a great learning experience. When it comes to a livestock project, taking lead and directing it towards where you want to go is extremely important. Having a goal is also extremely important in all aspects of life. Taking initiative is another one of the most important things that I have learned through the stock show industry. Taking initiative in my projects has led me to becoming more responsible, to fully dedicate myself to something, to develop good sportsmanship, and to prioritize different parts of my life. If I wouldn’t have taken initiative in my show pig project, I believe that I would not have learned any of these lessons. I have been able to go out every day and wash and train my pigs for shows because I took the initiative to do so. This also applies to every aspect of life because taking charge of something is important when you want to do well.
Mariah Frevert is the 5th generation on her family farm, where they raise beef cattle and row crops. She also raises show pigs for market and breeding, and she love to work with horses. Mariah is studying Agribusiness at college and plans t pressure a career in livestock nutrition and feed sales.