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17 July 2016 - Follow the Rules

It’s County Fair time! It’s State Fair time again, one of my favorite times of the year. I am sure it is a favorite time of the year for members of 4-H Clubs and FFA chapters all across the country. It is their ‘Super Bows when they go to the County and State Fairs and Livestock shows to show what they have learned and accomplished in the past year, producing a better quality animal, a better quality crop or reaching goals in whatever project they have chosen.

I haven’t written about this for two or three years and perhaps that is a good sign because apparently it is not happening nearly as much, but unfortunately it still happens. I’m talking about people not following the rules in the livestock judging ring.

You remember the incidents a decade or two ago, when Grand Champion Hogs and Steers at State and County Fairs were disqualified because the exhibitor had not followed the rules in the use of drugs or other enhancements to make their animal look better in the eyes of the judge. As a result, Grand Championships were taken away, exhibitors were disqualified and people wondered what we were teaching 4-H and FFA kids. It happened as recently as last year at a couple of State Fairs, so it hasn’t completely gone away.

I would extend this Samuelson Sermon to parents, leaders and advisors as well as those professional groomers (steer jockeys) who help young people get their animals ready to take into the Show Ring. It’s O.K. to teach, but follow the rules. Remember, there are different rules at every Fair, so make sure you know the rules and make sure you follow the rules.

Years ago, Football Coach Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is everything”. That may be true in the world of professional sports, but it is not true in 4-H or FFA. I feel in those two great leadership building organizations….“Learning is Everything!” Learning how to produce better animals, better crops, better products, learning sportsmanship, respect and learning how to follow the rules. I know parents want to see their children succeed and I understand taking a Grand Champion into the Champion Livestock Auction can mean big bucks, maybe even a college education. But if you break, or even bend the rules, you are teaching the wrong lesson.

As I have shared with you many times, I had my winning/losing moment when I was a senior at Ontario High School in Wisconsin and was one of five finalists in the Wisconsin State FFA public speaking contest. I knew I would bring the State Title back to my little high school, but when the judges finished their work, I came in fourth out of five. On the drive home, my FFA Advisor said “let’s talk about tonight and what you could have done better.“ We did, I learned, and for the past 64 years I have been making a living as a speaker.

The lesson I learned…very often we learn a lot more from losing than winning. So, 4-H and FFA members, enjoy the Fair season, do your very best, follow the rules and bring credit to the FFA and 4-H Clubs across the country.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.