By Landee Kieschnick

The smell of freshly groomed shavings. Warm coffee in your hand. And a new starched shirt just waiting to be worn. Can you guess what time of the year it is? You guessed it—stock show season!

I know, for me, stock show season was a lot of work—for many months straight! Not just the days before the show.

Stock shows are about making time to work with your animals. Letting frustrations roll off your shoulders. And how to handle your anxiety in a ring surrounded by hundreds, maybe even thousands, of spectators.

Youth exhibitors understand the ambition it takes to push until the end. Keep an eye on the judge. Even taking every last place ribbon with a smile.

And having the humility to shake the judge’s hand afterwards.

For me, morning and evening feedings, exercise routines and grooming that take place over the months leading up to the big day was my time of learning responsibility and personal strengths.

Determination, integrity, ambition to win and the humility to lose are characteristics that all youth stock show exhibitors hold.

As for each exhibitor getting ready for the major shows—like Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Odessa—we can’t help but be thankful for the great memories that are made on the road and in the barns.

And with the people who have helped along the way. The county agents, FFA teachers, parents and grandparents and others. We couldn’t have done it without their support.

If you’re making a trip to the stock show, find those kids. They’ll be happy to share their stories.

You can even be part of the conversation at Plant Agriculture. Did you know there’s a little bit of agriculture in almost everything we do? Like crayons from pigs and lipstick from cows. You can even gin cotton and ride in the harvest simulator to experience what harvesting a crop is like for a farmer.

It’s amazing all the agricultural facts you can learn by taking a day trip to the stock show.

So whether you’re an exhibitor or just visiting, take everything in. The sights and the shows. The time to be with loved ones.

Because it’s not about the banners won or the trophies claimed, but of the lessons and friendships made along the way.

Landee Kieschnick is the intern for Texas Farm Bureau’s Communications Division. She is a junior at Texas Tech University majoring in Agricultural Communications. Growing up on a family farm, her days consisted of stacking hay and driving a tractor.