Good morning! For those of you who don’t know me but might come across this post, my name is Morgan and I live in Johnson County. I am a 4-H alum and very passionate about the agriculture industry. We have a small cow-calf operation and I work in agriculture education. 4-H and rodeo livestock have some of the best qualities of life. It has been brought to my attention that there has been protests regarding the youth rodeo at the Johnson County Fair. I would like to paint you a picture of the real youth rodeo- not the animal abuse everyone is talking about- there are bad apples in every bunch but majority of farmers and ranchers care deeply about their animal’s well-being.
Johnson County has a long history of being one of the top livestock shows in the state. In recent years numbers have decreased but that is only to be expected with generations moving from the farm. That isn’t to say the passion is gone. Those involved in youth rodeo, FFA and 4-H animal exhibits radiate passion, leadership and community. I remember being too little to help with chores but always sitting next to Dad in the tractor waiting for the day when I could do the cow walk-through on my own… you see, I was begging to do chores and help on the farm when I was old enough to walk! It is hard to say the same about today’s youth.
I remember the day I turned 9 like it was yesterday! The day I was finally old enough to show cattle! I worked with my heifer and steers day and night! We would walk, wash and brush them. Chores often had me up at 6:00 am and out until 9:00 pm in the summer. That is dedication and hard work in my book! Those animals had the best life possible and even though we had to sell them at the end of the fair, I knew those animals lived a well-served life and their purpose to give us meat was a gift from them to us. God’s plan for creation was well thought out. If we care for animals they will in return provide for us.
Youth rodeo has the same principals… it is not teaching animal abuse. It is teaching youth to have leadership and a strong work ethic. It takes a unique person to get up in the middle of the night to check on a cow expecting to give birth. Rodeo has and always will be a family organization. Rural children look up to those barrel racing, bull riding, etc. Youth rodeo gives them a chance to be part of the story. It keeps youth interested in agriculture and learning about where our food comes from. Mutton busting attracts kids from all walks of life. They get competitors from the city, country and suburbs, and shows can draw hundreds of people.
Just remember if you don’t take care of your animals, you won’t have healthy animals ready for the rodeo. Taking care of the animal is a rodeo’s number one priority.
I understand there are different views but be sure to talk to those involved with the sport. There is always two sides to every story.