In casual conversation, random people often ask me what I do for a living. When I answer with ‘I’m a pig farmer’ I usually get an elbow from my wife or a sharp reminder from my conscience. ‘Pig Farmer’ may be true at times and perhaps ‘Showpig Breeder’ might be more accurate, but on a lot of days I’m more than just a farmer or breeder: I’m in the kid business. I suppose at the front end of most transactions I get to deal with Ag Teachers, Extension Agents, and Parents but when the ‘youth livestock project’ is turned over to the kids, I have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest and most talented young people in the country.
There are many reasons why showing pigs is booming right now but I often attribute the growth to this: “The incoming class is always greater than the outgoing class.” I really believe it’s true! The number of new families hitting the circuit, new 4-H’ers officially showing for the first time and FFA Greenhands starting their blue jacket career will always be greater than those who show for the last time. Young people today can be involved in so many activities and ultimately they’re forced to choose and prioritize their time. There are some who decide to stop showing to pursue other interests and others who choose to show livestock every year they’re eligible.
Over the years, I’ve been so fortunate to play a role in the showing careers of many talented individuals – many who picked up a show stick as a child and didn’t put it down until the rules said they couldn’t show any longer. Their success in the showring not only helped build the HH brand, it also provided them with experiences that will support their pursuit of higher education and hopefully a career in Agriculture. To show appreciation for their contributions to our success and recognize their achievement, we are going to look back at the best and brightest and see ‘where they are now.’ We hope this series will highlight how impactful the #stockshowlife can be for youth and inspire others to pursue their passion, in the ring and beyond!