Miss American Angus | Speech | Archives
Esther Mccabe - 2013 Miss American Angus
Will the Circle be Unbroken?
Let’s take a step back in time to 1951. Lucille Ball and Arthur Godfrey were the television celebrities of the day. The average home cost $9,000 and the average income was $3,500. However, maybe more important to all of us here today is the fact that the American Angus Association issued the very first junior membership in 1951.
Of course, at that time, there was not a Junior Activities Department and certainly not a National Junior Angus Show or LEAD (Leaders Engaged in Angus Development) conference for these new members to attend; but for a $5 membership, these juniors were allowed to own and transfer cattle into their name just like members of the regular American Angus Association.
Since that first membership, nearly 80,000 have been issued. To put that into perspective, that is enough people to fill two average-sized football stadiums! Even without the advantages and opportunities that come with belonging to the National Junior Angus Association (NJAA), which we often take for granted today, these juniors would have the hands-on experience and education to be ambassadors for the beef industry regardless of the profession or vocation that they chose.
As we bring this same principle into modern times, the possibilities and opportunities are much more exciting. Thankfully, the American Angus Association viewed their collective responsibility to the junior Angus program and more opportunities were added. In addition to the showring, today we learn Angus history, animal science and agricultural facts to compete in quiz bowls. We stand up in front of adults who are the leaders of our breed and are very successful in their own lives to give speeches and sales talks. We have experience with real life events from interviews and résumés to how to prepare different cuts of meat to their full potential. We see the results of carcass evaluations and how they are relevant to the industry. We also make friends with people from all over the country and have the opportunity to know some of the most successful people in the Angus breed.
From the age of 9 throughout our teenage years, we stay in high gear looking forward to the next event and how we can be more involved. Then the sun comes up one morning, just like any other day, but a major change takes place. Because of our 21st birthday, we can no longer participate in the junior program. But because of the junior program, we are armed to go forward into whatever our chosen field may be.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This means that the values, morals, core beliefs and knowledge that we gain when we are young will carry us forward. Throughout the junior Angus experience, we are preparing for our future and the challenges that it will bring to utilize our collective responsibility in everyday life.
Just think of the doctor in New York City or the lawyer in Los Angeles who went through the junior Angus program experience, and how different their circle of acquaintances would be from most of us in telling their beef story or defending the industry from inaccurate accusations from media or welfare groups. Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is considered to be one of the most influential statesmen of all time, is quoted as saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
How about the incredible influence a schoolteacher could have on a classroom after going through the junior program? What a ripple effect might that teacher have in the span of his or her career?
We are blessed to have the largest, most progressive beef breed association in the world, coupled with the strength of Angus Productions Inc., Angus Genetics Inc., and Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB). In addition, we have the American Angus Auxiliary and the Angus Foundation who have made available incredible scholarships to help many of us prepare for our future. One gets the feeling that when you are involved with “Team Angus,” you are only limited by your dreams. Each one of these entities plays a critical part in the ultimate success of the breed.
Albert Einstein once said, “One should never expect to take more from life than they are willing to give.” I believe it is our collective responsibility to make sure this incredible experience can continue for generations to come and that they are prepared for the challenges they will face. Each one of us in this have benefited in some way from the junior program.
I seriously doubt when the first American Angus Association junior membership was issued in 1951, anyone could have predicted the influence that decision would eventually have across our nation and even around the world. Many of our lives here today would be very different without the National Junior Angus Association and the programs that support it.
I am proud to be from a very small town in southeast Kansas that is full of the salt-of-the-earth kind of people who would do anything they could for someone. I will have lifelong friends from my hometown. However, because of the National Junior Angus Association, I have a much larger circle.
I have had the privilege to travel from California to Pennsylvania, and from Wisconsin to Georgia. I have had the opportunity to stand in front of an audience and speak about our industry. I have also received significant financial support to further my education. All of this and much more have been provided by my involvement in the National Junior Angus Association.
One of my favorite quotes is by Abraham Lincoln, but it is so simple, it almost seems childish: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Whatever that may be in my case, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the National Junior Angus Association to do my part in our collective responsibility.