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One 4-H youth's simple formula for success in the show ring

Thomas is a Redwood County 4-H'er who has found success in the beef cattle show ring.

What's his secret?

Passion plus perseverance

Thomas has found that in order to get better results in the show ring, he has to put in more work—that's the secret to his success—passion and perseverance. Thomas finds hard work rewarding. "I'm results focused," he explained. "I spend my free time in the cattle barn. I'm up at 6 a.m. and spend three-and-a-half hours in the barn right away in the morning. Many days, I spend eight hours a day with my calves."

Now, to most youth, spending hours in a barn is admittedly not the most exciting way to spend their summer days, and Thomas knows this: "It's not necessarily exciting. It is boring sometimes, but it still needs to get done! I've learned that in order to get the results, you need to go out and get it done the right way. Results are based off of how much work you put in." It's a lesson he's learned beginning at a very young age.

Growing passion at a young age

It began with a family tradition. His father grew up showing cattle in 4-H and now his whole family is involved. "Watching both of my older siblings be involved with 4-H, I naturally got interested in it at a young age."

The first time Thomas trained show cattle he wasn't even old enough to enter the ring! "One of my sister's show steers was difficult for her to train. It had an attitude." Thomas recalled that for some reason that  cow was only calm and well behaved for him, no one else. As a result, he was able to train the steer and help his sister prepare for the ring.

That special connection with show cattle continues to this day. For Thomas, cattle have always been a priority. "I love watching them change and progress throughout the summer." That's what excites Thomas, seeing how he can improve his care and training based off the results he gets.

Setting goals to continue growing

Speaking of goals, one of Thomas' is to make the awards sale at a major show, and his chance to do so is coming this fall. Besides the well-known Minnesota State Fair, 4-H livestock exhibitors have the opportunity to compete in the Aksarben Stock Show, hosted in Grand Island, Nebraska. Annually this show awards over $250,000 in scholarships to top youth exhibitors. It's a regional show, open to 4-H members from 10 states! Around 1,200 4-H'ers exhibit in it and Thomas plans to be one of them again this year.

Growing relationships and skills for life

The more shows Thomas and his family compete in, the more people Thomas meets. "We've become more competitive in shows, and over the years we've met different people and learned technique tips from them!" It's this sense of community that's contributed to their family's growth as well. "Through showing cattle I've met a lot of people that are like family to me."

His passion for showing cattle has impacted Thomas in major ways. "I've grown more responsible, with more of an attitude that 'it needs to get done' and 'I need to go do it.' It's made me a lot more motivated and grown my work ethic."

Thomas plans to continue improving his cattle herd and helping out on the family farm. As he works to pursue his goals, Thomas will implement the techniques he's learned at shows and connect with fellow exhibitors. He knows his passion and perseverance will guide him toward success in the show ring and in life too.

4-H is great for exploring new ideas and building skills for life!
Read how each summer, tens of thousands of 4-H'ers participate in county fairs.
Learn more about the Aksarben Stock Show that attracts over 1,200 4-H exhibitors.

By Mariah Jean Larson
University of Minnesota student
Steele County 4-H alum 

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