By Taylor Belle Matheny, NJHA Chairman
The trip of a lifetime. It sounds cliché, but it couldn’t be a truer statement to simply sum up our team’s trip to New Zealand to compete in the Young Breeders Competition. This trip was one of those which comes around once in a lifetime — the kind of trip that gives you a new perspective on life if you make the most of opportunities and challenge yourself to grow. Multiple times throughout our week in New Zealand, our team reflected in awe of the experience we were given because of the Hereford Youth Foundation of America.
Tyler, Abby, Keayla and I grew up actively competing in contests through the National Junior Hereford Association. Naturally, this meant we each had a competitive side eager to get started in the Young Breeders Competition. We strategized, made a game plan and hit the ground running with the module portion, only to be faced with our first task of building a stretch of fence in 40 minutes. We quickly realized those summer days spent fixing fence were valuable and we should have done a little more research on how people fenced in New Zealand.
Needless to say, this challenge started our fire to progressively get better with each module in the contest and to make up points in the areas we knew we could excel. Following the fence-building competition, we completed agribusiness, meat cuts, animal health and genetics modules. I feel confident in saying our unique backgrounds and interest areas made these modules successful.
Next, we moved into the part I was most excited for — the presentation round. We were given the topic, “How do you connect rural and urban communities through agriculture?” Back to a team strategy meeting we went, and the work began. Practice makes perfect, or at least experience has proven so to me over the years, and we practiced developing a meaningful presentation. Team USA took home first place and gave our presentation to all World Hereford Conference attendees later in the day.
The remainder of the week was spent judging and showing cattle — two areas in which we felt confident. Abby placed second overall and I was third overall in the judging contest. Tyler was fourth in herdsmanship, which was a combined judging and showmanship score.
Team USA ended the competition in third place overall. We were proud of how we finished the competition, but more importantly, we made friends from around the world and learned and enjoyed each other’s company more than we ever could have imagined. The Hereford breed prepared us for this competition, and we want to thank everyone for supporting us as we embarked on a lifechanging adventure. The next stop for the World Hereford Conference is the U.S. in 2024, and we can’t wait to see the next four team members compete!