I recently attended a University of Illinois livestock and meats judging team reunion. Admittedly, when I received the invitation in the mail I thought to myself… I am way too busy to go. However, my team was to be highlighted on the program as the 10 year anniversary team. Thus, I put it on my calendar.
Upon arrival, I met up with those that were on the 2008 team and we began reminiscing of the "good ole days." The stories were plentiful. Our faces hurt from smiling and the air around us was filled with laughter. We were a rowdy bunch and had our fair share of fun, but the most defining nature of our team was that we were all extremely competitive. That trait combined with an abundant passion for livestock and animal agriculture made our team very successful.
As other teams were highlighted by living legends Dr. Doug Parrett and Dr. Tom Carr, the same message kept ringing through. The teams were filled with competitive spirits with an overflowing passion for agriculture. As teams introduced themselves, it was evident that many of the past judging team members were climbing some high mountains. These folks were all very successful in their paths. They were medical doctors, higher-ups in the meat packing industry, successful business owners, big-time farmers and ranchers, communicators, leaders in the cattle trade, veterinarians, professors and academics, and several more players within their own field. Honestly, the career success was astounding. It was a thrill to be around people that had such a deep passion for agriculture and took utmost pride in their work.
Upon reflection, the passion and pride that was on display at the reunion is just an example of what takes place every day in the livestock world. This winter has been rough. The farm economy isn't that good. However, passion and pride continues to fuel farmers and ranchers every day. I don't know what is more admirable than that. My hats off to everyone who fights the weather, carries the stress of lower commodity prices, and bares the responsibility to care for livestock day in and day out. Your passion and pride for your work fuels the industry, it fuels your community, and it fuels your family.