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Keegan Cassady - 2017 Miss American Angus

Rising With Courage

Miss American Angus Keegan CassadyJoin me in taking a look back to 1873. A gentleman by the name of George Grant had just crossed the Atlantic Ocean with the first four Aberdeen-Angus bulls to Victoria, Kansas. Just a short ten years later, the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeder's Association was formed, and because of him, Angus are now the largest breed of beef cattle in the United States, and we can all enjoy delicious Angus Beef. George Grant's courage allowed the Angus breed to rise to where it stands today. Rising with courage has different meanings depending on who you ask. For some it could be crossing off one of those bucket list items you've always want to do. For others it may be walking into that show ring with a heifer that you don't really trust, and getting the grand champion slap. And there are those people that it might be standing up in front of a crowd and knocking out that speech they've been dreading. We all have our own meaning of what rising with courage, today I would like to discuss what it means to me.

It starts with an idea. Every organization, event, or movement, started as an idea. Just over a hundred years after George Grant brought over those first Angus bulls, a new idea was formed, Certified Angus Beef. Certified Angus Beef Brand was created by a group of individuals to set quality standards for a superior product. Although it wasn't accepted by all, it has grown into a nationally recognized product sold at restaurants and grocery stores. It was a courageous move, but it has experienced great success. I have faced this in my own life. When I was in eighth grade, I had the idea to move an hour away from my small home town to a city of 130,000 people. For those of you that don't know, I did not grow up on a farm. My love and passion for agriculture grew from my family's involvement in crops and livestock. At this point, I had shown cattle for a few years now, but I had to drive an hour every time I wanted to work with one of my show heifers. I had the idea to move, and luckily, both of my parents were on board. They saw the value in investing in my passion by moving closer to the farm. It all started with that courageous idea and if it wasn't for that, I probably would not be standing before you today.

Next, you can't have courage without vulnerability. Now courage and vulnerability may seem like total opposites, but they actually go hand in hand. We see this with George Grant. He left his home in Scotland, crossed an ocean, and settled in a new land. By him stepping out of his comfort zone and taking action, this lead to the start of "The Business Breed" in America. Author, Dr. Brene Brown states, "Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage." True courage requires some level of vulnerability. In my own life, I have had to put myself out there to get where I wanted to be. Going back to my personal story, I had to make a choice. Was I going to stay in my hometown or was I going to take the risk and move to where I could gain the same experiences as someone who did grow up on a farm? I chose to be vulnerable, leave my home and dedicate my time and energy into what I was passionate about, and if I hadn't, I wouldn't have developed my dedication to the angus breed. It took courage to get where I am today, but it also took vulnerability. We must step out of our comfort zone, even when it is scary, in order to be successful.

The next characteristic comes from Dr. Tim Elmore. He writes about two different types of people: thermostats and thermometers. Some people change their "temperature" by the situation they're in or who they're around. And others stay who they are no matter what. They set the "temperature." It takes courage to be a thermostat, but the most admirable and successful people stand by their idea and who they are regardless of what others think. Despite skeptics, the founders of the Certified Angus Beef Brand stuck with their idea. They saw the value in their specifications and the potential for this product. They didn't change as the temperature did, they set the temperature. I experienced this in my journey. Moving from a small town to a city was a huge adjustment. I was the only person in my class with a livestock background. I know that to some I was considered weird for wanting to spend a lot of time shoveling manure, but I had to stay true to myself, even when it wasn't easy. With the courage to set the temperature regardless of the situation, success is achievable.

There can be no success story without setbacks. Nothing goes perfectly right all the time, but those that preserve are the most successful of all. The first angus bulls that stepped onto American soil didn't exactly fit in. People were not receptive to these strange looking, black hided, polled cattle. But once breeders saw and tasted the benefits of angus genetics, they were convinced that they would be a positive addition to America's herd. George Grant saw the potential in the angus breed and he had the courage to invest in it resulting in polled crossbreds with more tender, flavorful meat. I found myself having to persevere in my own story. At times I struggled with moving and starting at a school with over 2,000 students. I had to figure out if the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. I had to stay focused on my goal and what I wanted to do with my life. It was hard to move and start over, but the time spent working and learning on the farm, was the most valuable time of all. It took some perseverance, but I wouldn't be who I am today without the heavy influence of agriculture in my life.

Rising with courage is not easy. It takes an idea, a strong belief in what you are doing, some vulnerability, and perseverance along the way. We have all had to face our fears at some point in our lives, but what will you do the next time an opportunity comes your way? Will you run? Or will you rise?