Miss American Angus

Kelsey Theis - 2023 Miss American Angus

Courage vs. Fear

Kelsey Theis

It has been said that “You gain courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

In this life fear is inevitable. We have all been afraid to try something new and get out of our comfort zone or to make a change in our lives.

Now I want you to visualize a few things with me.

It's 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana and a little blonde girl from Kansas is surrounded by her parents and siblings getting ready to walk into the NJAS arena for the first time with encouragement from her entire family.

It's game point, you are the only 7th grader on the middle school volleyball A team stepping to the line to serve in the league championship. To add a little more pressure it's your school's biggest rival and some of your club volleyball teammates are across the net.

Now it's August of 2018 and you are walking into the front doors of Pleasant Ridge High School for your first day as a freshman.

2022 and you're four hours and a state away from home and you are leaving your dorm room to go to your first day of biology class at Northern Oklahoma College.

You might be wondering what all of these have in common. The first thing is that it was me, Kelsey Theis from Leavenworth, Kansas. And the second thing is I was nervous and SCARED.

The good news though, I survived it all. I was 3rd in class with my Bred and Owned heifer AVF Sara 9374, I served 9 straight points to win game 3 against our rival, I made it through 4 exciting years of high school even during a global pandemic and I got an A on my first biology test at NOC.

It was those moments of persevering and allowing courage to conquer my fears that made me stronger and got me to where I am today. This concept can also ring true for the development of the Angus Breed in the United States. The American Angus Association would not have gotten to where it is today without the courage of a particular person in 1873, when George Grant decided to bring four Angus Bulls from Scotland to the plains of Victoria, Kansas. Despite the benefits of the Angus Breed many were hesitant to implement the new polled black hided cattle into their own herd.

This shows that there are times in life when not everything will go perfect or exactly like you planned the first time and it might feel like you have failed. One of my personal experiences with this was last fall when I decided to try out for the Kansas 4-H All Star Team. When I didn't make the team I instantly felt discouraged. Then I found a quote by Mary Pickford that states, “Failure is not the falling down, but the staying down”, after reading this my mindset changed. I decided I would spend the next year working on getting better and set the goal of making the team. I judged more classes and spent time practicing reasons. Walking into the tryout this September I was more confident in my abilities, but of course I was still nervous. Even though I was fearful I had to put faith in the work I had done and stick to what I knew I could do. When I decided to have the courage to keep going I was able to experience a more successful outcome.

Similarly, it would have been easy for George Grant to get discouraged. It certainly was not an easy feat to leave his home, cross an ocean, and settle into new ground. But it wasn't until he got here that the difficult journey of creating the Business Breed would truly begin. Initial skeptics of the strange looking cattle made expansion of the breed difficult. Despite the adversity he continued on with his vision and crossed the bulls with native Texas longhorns and produced polled black calves that were able to survive well in the winter. When the calves weighed more the next spring it demonstrated the value of the new breed. Eventually ten years later in 1883 the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association was formed with just 60 members. Today it has grown to be serving nearly 25,000 members and is the largest beef breed registry in the world. This goes to show that being confident and having the courage to go after your goals can result in an outcome even bigger than what you could have imagined.

Courage within the Angus Breed did not end with George Grant. The formation of the new association allowed room for tremendous growth and more specialized entities allowing for further development. In 1952 the American Angus Auxiliary was chartered by a group of courageous women with the mission of giving women Angus breeders and wives of Angus breeders a chance to get better acquainted and to aide in promoting the breed. Again in 1978 courage was shown by the founders of CAB while developing their groundbreaking idea. Even though there were skeptics they continued with their goal of creating a high quality, specification-based brand. Their confidence in the values of their specifications and the potential of the Certified Angus Beef Brand helped them face the challenges along the way.

Now let's imagine if fears always won in life. Would we have the privilege of being a part of the Angus family that we all know today if George Grant did not have the courage to import the first Angus bulls to America? Would Certified Angus Beef be able to sell 1.2 billion pounds in 2022 if the AAA board was not confident enough to take such a remarkable chance? If it wasn't for the courage of founding members of the American Angus Auxiliary that took a chance that now benefits countless members of the NJAA would I be standing before you today?

The next time you find yourself facing a situation that scares you, just remember courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than the fear.

It's not always easy to face your fears, but without the courage to do so there is no room for progress to be made. Everything you could ever dream of is simply just waiting for you on the other side of your fears.