Outside the Show Ring

Banners, buckles, trophies, and spotlight are all normal sought after items at a show in the livestock industry. While I am a fan of getting a reward on hard work and dedication it is not all about that when showing. Many people show and I think competition is a great thing to have in everyone’s life. Competition can make you work harder, stay dedicated, and find a passion for something always wanting better and more. Certainly some will disagree, but this is my blog and that is my feeling.

There are so many positives about the show industry. I have chosen to talk about three important aspects though and that is: character building, responsibility, and relationships.

Photo by: Christine O’Connor


Character building is a major part of every person’s life no matter what age and stage you might be at. From a young age to teen years it is extremely important to have positive role models and activities to help shape you. Showing helps make you a better person by giving you something to be dedicated to and help you find drive. If you do not want to be driven or dedicated then maybe showing is not for you. From the 4:30 mornings to the 12:30 nights you have to want it or you will want out quick. Wanting that project/friend to be the best they can be should help give someone the dedication that should help them in the work place one day so they do not just half…well you get the point. I am a believer that the show industry shapes you to being a better individual and have the character for life to succeed.

“Success isn’t owned, It’s leased and rent is due every day.” – JJ Watt, Professional Football Player

Responsibility, while some kids have household chores to do show kids have house and barn chores to do. When you want to sleep in extra on the Saturday morning while your mom cooks you breakfast your pigs/cows/horses/sheep are waiting for you to cook them breakfast. Responsibility is a never ending task when you mention showing. You have to care enough to know that the animal’s health and well-being comes first and that is something you can never forget. Making sure that you get out there and check if your calves are hot in the 90 degree day in July is a never ending task or the pig’s fans are doing their job without a few extra rinsing’s here and there. While some go to the pool and lay out, show kids are building their responsibility resume at home tending to the animals who rely on them.

The last topic to discuss is the relationships. Sure we can talk about everyone who married/dated someone they met at a show; that’s pretty common. But let’s talk about another lifelong relationship. The people you buy from, meet at the show, or show under all know someone else. If you are friendly and willing to talk to someone then, you never know when you will run into someone you know or need when you walk into that first interview out of college. The network of people is endless from one end of the country to the other and showing can build that for you.

While some may call it a waste of time or money I call it…a resume builder. The show industry can give you the good and the bad times but no matter what will always teach you about life. Banners, buckles, trophies, and spotlights are always there, it’s just what you make from them that counts.



11659217_855264164508837_7181484303854367525_nMy name is Matt O’Connor and I am currently a junior at Western Illinois University.  I grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana where I grew up working for a few farmers and raising show pigs with my family.  I transferred into WIU from Black Hawk East College in Kewanee, IL where I received an Associate’s degree in Ag Business.  I really enjoy WIU from the stand point that there is always something going on and the amount of hands on learning you can receive is second to none.  I will be graduating next May with a Bachelor’s degree in Ag Science where I look to go into the livestock nutrition field.  I really enjoy my time here and look forward to making the most of these last two semesters. Thank you for reading my blog.


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