Family Feature: Maine and Chianina Junior Nationals | June 17 – 24

feature piece from Kyndal Reitzenstein

Grand Island, Nebraska hosted the Maine and Chianina Junior Nationals this year. Exhibitors from all across the nation participated in numerous contests and shows. The Higgins family from Auburntown, Tennessee, competed at junior nationals. I was lucky enough to talk with Allison and Amelia about their operation and how advocating for agriculture plays a role in their families operation.

Tell me a little bit about your family/operation.

Our farm is located in Auburntown, TN, approximately 50 miles east of Nashville. We have about 65 IMG_6788registered Chiangus cows and a handful of Angus dams. We started raising Chiangus cattle in 1986, and our brother, Andy, began showing in 1995. Our family has been active in the Chi industry ever since then.

How many years has your family been showing?

Allison- My first show was the DeKalb County Fair in 2002 when I was 8 years old. I attended Chianina Junior Nationals in 2004 when I had reached the minimum age required, and I haven’t missed one since then. At 22, this year was my thirteenth and last Junior National. I’m sad to see my junior career come to an end, but working consistently toward my goals over the years has allowed me to be competitive on a national level. That’s something I could only dream about when I started showing!

Amelia- My first show was the Wilson County Fair in 2003 when I had just turned 8 years old. I had attended Junior Nationals in 2003 and 2004 to watch my siblings show, but the first Junior Nationals I actually exhibited a heifer at was in Richmond, IN, in 2005. As Alli said, we have shown at every Chianina Junior National since. It’s kind of fun to look back and remember where the Nationals were each year and remember the first time I even won a class. At that time, I never imagined I could possibly win the whole show in 2014!

What has showing done for your family?

Allison- Showing cattle has shown me the value of perseverance and hard work. Washing heifers day after day can get a little tiring, and there were some days I definitely wanted to be doing something else. However, I knew that if I ever wanted to be successful, I had to be diligent. My brother and his example have taught me almost everything I know about cattle and shown me how important relationships with others in the industry can be. I’ve met tons of amazing people and traveled through a majority of the United States by showing cattle. I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve been presented as a result of being involved in the cattle industry.

Amelia- Along with the wonderful attributes of the cattle industry that my sister described, I was fortunate enough to serve on the American Junior Chianina Association Board of Directors for four years, giving me even more opportunities to grow and develop with my personal life, as well as professional. Attending Youth Beef Industry Congress in 2012 allowed me to meet young leaders in other breeds across the nation and develop relationships with them. Learning to work with our board and making influential decisions in our breed’s organization taught me the value of thinking through and analyzing situations before coming to a conclusion. The experiences and lifelong friends gained in the cattle industry are truly irreplaceable.

How have you inspired young exhibitors to keep showing or get involved?

Allison- I’ve always tried to be a good example to young exhibitors and encourage them to work hard and be persistent towards their goals. I’ve done demonstrations at Middle Tennessee State University Beef Camp that teach the kids everything from setting up their stalls at a show to proper hair grooming to showmanship skills and technique. I hope that they’ve learned from me that if you want something badly enough, you can’t be lazy in trying to obtain it.

Amelia- As my sister and I come to the end of our show careers, we are sad that our time is almost over, but we have started teaching our 10 year-old cousin the ropes of showing cattle. He has always had a strong desire to be involved with livestock, but since he doesn’t live on a farm, it is difficult for him. His first show was a small cattle show at the high school a couple of years ago, but this year is the first year that he will be old enough to show at Tennessee 4-H Beef Expo, so we are preparing him for that now. He is usually a fast learner, but we try to encourage him when he isn’t sure how well he is doing. I hope he stays involved for many years to come.

What do you love most about the agricultural industry?

Allison- The values and lessons I have learned through agriculture are something that could never be taught in a classroom. When I would tell the other kids in elementary school about all the work that goes into living on a farm and showing cattle, they didn’t understand why I would want to spend so much time laboring over it. Today, some still don’t understand the role that agriculture plays in their lives. I love being a part of an industry that impacts every single person on the planet, whether they realize it or not.

Amelia- This summer I am interning at Tennessee Beef Industry Council, and a reoccurring theme we always seem to talk about is how much we love the people in the beef and agriculture industries. We all in the industry share a love for agriculture, and it seems to make each other better to understand. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but there is just something about the people in this industry that I just love.

We would like to thank the Higgins family for their time dedicated to the AgChat Foundation!