As I settle back into school here at NC State, I've been talking with classmates about their summer jobs, vacations, and experiences, but I think I've had a different type of summer. For me, vocation and vacation were the same thing from May to August. What more could I ask for? A position, as Miss American Angus, where I get to meet and serve hundreds of people, all while traveling around our country is pretty much just a dream come true for me.
April came to a close for me in Reno, NV at the Western National Angus Futurity. I had never been to Nevada before, and the scenery and casinos were a new culture! I visited and encouraged the girls participating in the Western States Queen contest on Friday afternoon. Aside from being in the showring, my parents and I drove to see beautiful Lake Tahoe one afternoon. Another evening we also went to see the band Nickel Creek perform at the Grand Sierra Casino. Thank you so much to Elizabeth Gavette, the 2007 Western States Angus Queen, for her help in the ring when I departed quickly, hoping to make an earlier flight back to Raleigh. I headed home to face a week of exams but certainly was ready to have school completed for the spring!
I was busy every weekend in May, getting to attend two sales in North Carolina - Spring Fever Angus Sale and Cool Springs Plantation Sale. I traveled to Tennessee to watch my brother and his wife graduate in mid-May. The Guilford County Cattlemen invited me to their May meeting at a nearby farm, and they let me speak briefly to explain what I had been doing as Miss American Angus. Also in May, NC State University's College of Agriculture and Life Science released their spring edition of the Perspectives magazine. Perspectives circulates to over 35,000 people, including international recipients, all faculty and staff, NC's governor and cabinet, all members of NC Congress, and numerous alumni. I was on the cover of the magazine and was happy to share my experiences in our great Angus industry with people of all backgrounds. The last weekend of May was the Atlantic National Show in Timonium, MD. The weather was nice and warm - very warm - in Timonium for our weekend. This was the first show where I carefully juggled my responsibilities in the ring as queen with showing a heifer.
June started out back in Tennessee for me with my family at a cousin's wedding. I also went to lunch in June with Amanda Wydner, the CAB representative for the Mid-Atlantic region. She explained parts of her job to me, and we hope to plan future events where I can be more involved with consumer education about CAB. I next flew to Atlanta to meet with Shelia Stannard to go to the Southern National Angus Show in Perry, GA. Shelia was an excellent chaperone, and we had a great time in south Georgia. The Georgians hospitality was wonderful at their show. Shelia and I also visited a peach farm and bought many peach treats for our family and friends back home. Too bad we couldn't bring back a sample of some delicious peach ice cream that we found! The day after I got home from Georgia, my family set off for a beach trip to Emerald Isle, NC. It was a relaxing vacation and a good time to visit with the whole family. The week at the beach was cut short by a few days because I headed back to Raleigh to attend the North Carolina Junior Beef Round-Up. I had no animals of my own to show, so I worked as the ringman for two days and helped with awards during the Angus show on Sunday. After coming home, we left again four days later for Harrisburg, PA for the Eastern Regional Junior Angus Show. Pennsylvania did a terrific job hosting ERJAS this year. I participated in my first opening ceremonies after going to the National Civil War Museum for the Queen's Tea. Eastern Regionals was one of the first places where I got to interact with a lot of other state queens, and I had a great time visiting with girls from across the eastern United States. The day after coming home from Pennsylvania, I met with Jeff Stewart, a representative of Southern Foods in Greensboro, NC. Southern Foods is a CAB distributor, and Jeff gave me a very extensive tour of their facilities. I watched as beef was being cut and processed, and he also took me to meet with a local restaurateur who owns several CAB licensed restaurants in our state. I closed out a very busy June with a peaceful trip to the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia to go trout fishing with a friend. The serenity that we enjoyed, removed from big cities and hectic airports, was a much needed respite from an otherwise bustling month.
July 1 found me back in the Greensboro airport, heading to Tulsa for the National Junior Angus Show. What an experience! I think that most juniors take the hard work that goes on behind the scenes for granted! While in Tulsa, we had a lovely Queen's Tea at the Gilcrease Museum, featuring a motivational speaker and a good meal. Aside from meeting many queens, princesses, and state royalty from across the country, I also got the chance to meet many new junior members and their mentors as they participated in the Mentoring Program at NJAS. When the end of the week finally came, we were all very exhausted, and I was happy to have the longest event of the year out of the way! Following Junior Nationals, I had a nice two week break where I got to get a lot of work done with our own cattle at home and visit with friends. My mom and I next flew to Louisville, KY for the All-American Breeders' Futurity. The show ran very smoothly thanks to the great organization of their staff. While my trip to Louisville - and even while I was in Louisville - was great, the return trip was not very fun. We experienced the whole gamut of delays and cancellations, but finally made it home to Greensboro.
In August, I traveled along with seventeen other North Carolina Angus members to LEAD Conference in Athens, GA. This year's LEAD was fantastic, and I truly thank all of the sponsors, the Angus Foundation, and the organizers of the event! We toured the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and Three Trees Ranch. Dick and Diane Beck not only prepared a fantastic meal for our whole group, but also arranged with Three Trees' owner Stan Thomas to let us all get a helicopter tour of their ranch. Ten days later I went overnight to the West Virginia State Fair. The Irons family graciously let me stay at their home, and I had a very nice stay in West Virginia.
This summer has been very busy, but I really do feel privileged to be 2007 Miss American Angus! I have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people this summer, and I think it is amazing that nearly all have some connection to Angus cattle - whether it be that their grandfather raised 'some black cows' or they just had a great Angus steak for dinner the night before. Some of the most memorable people from my summer aren't people directly affiliated with the Angus industry, but rather those whom I have met and spoken with as I have traveled here and there - such as people who have seen articles about Angus cattle, the stranger sitting next to me on a plane, or even friends who hear about Angus news. I hope to make the best of the last third of my time as Miss American Angus! See y'all around!
My home of Greensboro is second nationwide for urban sprawl,
Ahead of Atlanta, Palm Beach, Fort Worth, but that's not all.
There are undoubtedly more apartments, condos, or housing of similar kind
Than the number of cattle, and sheep, and horses, combined.
Since I live in an urban area, people tend to laugh
When I tell them that I like to work in a barn with a calf.
Why would I enjoy such dirty and strenuous work?
They just don't understand that it's come with an incredible perk.
Yes, it takes a while to vaccinate the herd,
And cleaning the barn is certainly a job I never preferred.
But far from any cow pasture or grooming chute,
I have learned a lesson that is hard to refute.
It doesn't matter what materials or talents we possess,
Because it is hard work that paves the way for real success.
Working Hard for All A's
All throughout school, I have been striving for all As, but I'm not referring to straight As in classes at school. My unique all As stand for academics, arts, athletics, and Angus. Each of these subjects has made is obvious to me that hard work pays off year after year.
When we think of all As, school automatically comes to mind, and the first A on my life report card is academics. Learning how to work hard on the farm has set me apart in classes because I have a different attitude about work. In the same way that you can't clip half of a heifer or fence in half of a field, I learned not to give half of an effort in school. There really was no use in taking only some of the notes, or doing just some of the homework, or studying only for a part of the test. I can attribute much of my success at Northwest Guilford High School to great teachers who motivated me to work hard, but I was also willing to take and handle advanced course loads each year. The extra effort that I put in during high school has paid off in college because I was able to come in with credit and courses behind me. At North Carolina State University, I've continued to work and study hard. Although I am in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, I haven't declared a major, and that's okay with me for now. My advisors have encouraged me to explore a wide range of interests for my first few semesters, including subjects like American literature or genetics or even music. Nevertheless, each area I study still requires that diligent, hard work. But back to my life report card, the next topic relates to my wide range of interests at NC State.
The second A is for arts, specifically for me, violin music. In taking violin lessons since kindergarten, I've used many different practice techniques and played a wide repertoire of songs, but it all requires a unique kind of hard work through persistence and concentration. Many of the pieces that I have played, from bluegrass to Bach, have a fast and upbeat tempo, and my fingers have to move like a finely tuned machine. I really thought my teacher had lost it when she first told me that the best way to practice was to slowly drill and repeat these sections. I had made up in my mind that if it was supposed to sound fast, I needed to practice it fast! But, she was right. The best practice that I can have with my violin is slow practice, laying a good, firm foundation. Since I have been at NC State, I've been accepted into the Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra, a combination of professionals from the community and a few college students. The weekly rehearsals, in addition to individual practice time, can be grueling and time consuming especially during a busy college week. Playing in an orchestra composed mainly of professionals forces me to play my best in every concerto movement of every rehearsal. But the outcome is well-worth it because a blend of strings, woodwinds, and some brass instruments can bring any composer's works to life for our audience.
Of the hard earned As, the next, and possibly easiest to picture, is athletics. The mental image of a long afternoon at cross country practice is the epitome of hard work - sweat-drenched and physically exhausted but still willing to do a few push-ups or jog a few more laps. After running for four years in high school, I finally realized that it was up to me to set the bar for my season weeks and months before the first day of practice. I learned that I had to implement my work ethic in the off-season, training to stay in shape. Logging miles on my own all summer long made the difference my senior year, and my coach could even tell that I was a different person who was willing to run an extra mile at the end of practice or lead weekend running groups for my teammates. Cross country and track meets have always been a model that shows that a hard effort in the offseason and practice really does speed up success.
The same kind of labor and time that goes into athletics also is involved in the next and final A, Angus. Cattle shows are a perfect display of hard work, for both the exhibitors and their families. I attended my first Eastern Regionals when I was five, and even though I couldn't show, I loved to be around my older brothers as they walked and washed their heifers. When I was six years old at the National Junior Angus Show in Kansas City, I still didn't have a heifer of my own but my job was to sweep our aisle. Every year since then, I've gone with increasing responsibility and dedication to regional or national shows. I've continued to experience the hard work involved in the Angus industry outside of the show ring though. In order to contribute to the success of Angus performance records and EPD's, my dad and I submit our herd records to the American Angus Association. We, like most other Angus breeders, understand that our work now in breeding and gathering data on our cows will continue to improve and promote the Angus breed.
The success of the Angus breed, the kind that looks both to the past and to the future, is what I strive to have in my life. Success fosters confidence and poise, while at the same time serving as a motivator for future hurdles. To me, it doesn't matter whether it's a record time in a cross country race or a solo violin recital because our individual successes take different forms. Achieving all As - academics, arts, athletics, and Angus - has certainly been a worthwhile experience.
So, we can see the fruits of our labor in a variety of ways,
But it just simply seems to come back to all As
Like my personal 4 A's or grades on a report card;
But we can't forget one we all seem to regard.
We see the accomplishments even here, today,
Of the American Angus Association - what a coincidence! - the AAA.
No matter how I look at it, I now can see
That hard work has bred success for me.