Wyo youth exhibit at national show
Grand Island, Neb. – “Livin’ The Hereford Life” was the theme for the Annual Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE) held in Grand Island, Neb. the first week of July. And that’s just what the junior Hereford members did from Wyoming as 11 Hereford youth with 32 animals competed against other Hereford juniors from around the country.
The show set records with 663 exhibitors from 37 states showing 1,200 Herefords. Amy Cowan, director of Youth Activities and the Foundation for the American Hereford Association, believes the large turnout for this year’s show was the location.
“If you look at the map, this location is central,” Cowan said. “It pulled a lot from the West that usually do not participate because of the distance.”
Cowan also believes the brand new Nebraska Fairgrounds encouraged states to come to the new facility. Every year the JNHE is hosted by a different state Junior Association around the country. The 2013 event moves to Kansas City, Mo.
“I think it’s not just a cattle show,” she explained. “It builds skills in leadership and marketing. It also builds showmanship skills and judging skills, and there are so many opportunities available at the JNHE. It’s a family event for most people – it’s their vacation.”
The JNHE was a week the Largent and Pierson families of Kaycee called their family vacation. The Largents, Jordan, 18, Kelley, 15, Mark, 12, and Nathan, 10, along with their first cousins, Tinley Pierson, 9 and her little brother Vaun, 7, enjoyed the week together.
The cousins are carrying on a family tradition with Herefords spanning six generations. Grandparents, Mark and Cathy Largent of Largent and Sons Ranch, were at the show watching their grandkids show. Beginning in 1902, Largent & Sons has grown to a 200 head cow/calf operation.
The Largents three children, Dave, Laura, and Sherry all exhibited at the JNHE’s when they were youth. In Nebraska, it was time for Mark and wife Heather’s, four children and Laura Largent Pierson and her husband Toby’s two children to participate.
“It really touches my heart as a grandmother to watch the grandkids show,” said Cathy. “It’s pretty awesome.”
For Mark Largent, watching his grandchildren work together is very rewarding. “It gives me a sense of appreciation for the ones who have gone before us – the ones who are gone now.”
“I lost my Dad nine years ago and wish he could have seen the children show,” Mark explained. “The kids are carrying on a tradition that their ancestors started. The kids work really hard and they do the work themselves.”
Largent’s grandchildren call him “Pappa,” and make him feel very special.
“For me the overall interest they show means so much,” he said. “They will say, ‘Pappa, tell me about this pedigree.’ It’s the interest they reflect — it’s a pleasure.”
The grandparents have not missed watching their grandchildren show at the JNHE for the past eight years and several shows on and off since 1990.
“You feel their triumphs and their sorrows,” Cathy said. “We’re here for it all. It’s a good responsibility builder. They miss out on a lot of things with their friends, but they love showing their Herefords.”
Mark said the JNHE is the largest cattle show they attend. “To be in the top 10 is an honor — we have so much invested,” he said. “To win a champion honor is awesome.”
And that’s just what granddaughter Kelley did, winning reserve division champion bull with her fall yearling bull, “Ranger.” It was the first time for the family to win reserve division champion. Kelley’s first JNHE was when she was a seven-year-old peewee exhibitor in 2004 in Louisville, Ky.
“I have been showing all the bulls from the ranch since 2007,” Kelley said. “I feel special showing bulls because I’m the only one who shows them. They’re like big dogs out in the pasture and I feed them.”
Kelley feels blessed to be carrying on her family’s deep history of Herefords. “My great grandfather, grandfather and Dad used to show,” the junior showman said. “I like having the family together — it’s like our vacation. I like the showing part and the social aspect. I keep in touch with other juniors from around the country.”
Laura Pierson Largent enjoyed watching her daughter Tinley show. Seven-year-old Vaun will show for the first time at Junior Nationals in 2013 in Kansas City, Mo.
“I started showing at the JNHE when I was in high school,” Laura said.
The Hereford junior mom believes working with and showing cattle has a positive affect on their children.
“It’s the responsibility of taking care of the cattle, getting up early and the hard work,” Laura said. “It’s an everyday job — not just when you want to work.”
The kids help with all the chores before and after school.
“We do it together,” she explained. “The kids learn that hard work pays off and it’s fun. They have the experience of meeting new friends from all over the country. They learn a lot about the industry and how others do it.”
Laura was proud of her daughter Tinley, who had a class winner with “Allie,” her heifer.
“This is my first time showing at Junior Nationals,” Tinley said. “I was so happy to have a class winner. I was a little surprised since it is the biggest Hereford show in the country.”
Tinley likes history and was excited to be a part of the Largent and Sons tradition.
“I like to continue the legacy of our family and the ranch,” she said. “I’m the youngest one in the family showing this year.”
The family had a great week experiencing the JNHE together. The successful and fun week for the family concluded at the awards ceremony when Jordan was named Outstanding Junior from Wyoming.
“I’m honored to receive this because it’s voted on my all the other juniors in Wyoming,” Jordan said. “I enjoy helping my younger sister and brothers and my cousins during the show.”
The Largents and Piersons plan to continue working towards quality Herefords and hope the 2013 JNHE is as successful at the 2012 event.
Rebecca Long Chaney writes for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.