Carr, Colo., girl prepares for leadership role with the Junior Hereford Association
‘Heart for Herefords’
For Brooke Hinojosa, it’s always been Herefords. Before her mother married her step-father, Brian Sidwell, they lived in Nebraska on the Stangle Hereford ranch. It was a much smaller operation, though, so moving to a ranch that runs about 400 cows was a huge change she said, and one she loved. The breed is very docile and the cows are great mothers, something that Hinojosa said is very important on their family ranch.
“I have a true heart for Herefords,” she said.
The National Western Stock Show will run from Jan. 7-22. Hereford Week at the show is Jan. 8-14. The Hereford shows will be Jan. 12, 13 and 14. For more information about National Western, go to nationalwestern.com.
Brooke Hinojosa still remembers her first steer. She was 8 years old and the Hereford’s name was Hairy. He was stubborn and didn’t want to be halter-broken, but she was determined, even as the 1,100-pound steer dragged her little body across the pen.
This fall was the Carr, Colo., girl’s first semester in college at Oklahoma State University. The now 19-year-old thought about Hairy and the lessons he taught her, bruises and all, when she struggled with her college algebra class. She told herself if she could spend countless days in the barn with Hairy, taming his namesake unruly curls and finally — finally — teaching him to take her lead around the show pen, she could do anything.
“College was a little iffy when I first started, so I had to figure it out,” Hinojosa said. “It took all the hard work and dedication that I learned from working in the barn.”
Now, she’ll face a different challenge while at home for winter break with her family on the Sidwell Hereford ranch in northern Weld County. She’ll help her parents, Brian and Linda Sidwell, prepare cattle for the National Western Stock Show in January, while also preparing to attend the show as a board director for the National Junior Hereford Association.
Hinojosa is one of 12 youth representing the Hereford breed at the stock show, as well as at other national competitions and functions during her three-year term.
Hinojosa served as the Colorado Hereford Queen for three years and had the option of running for National Hereford Queen or the National Junior Hereford Association board this summer. She decided her passion for agriculture advocacy would be a better fit for the association. During the Junior National Hereford Expo in July in Madison, Wisc., she was named one of four new board members for 2016. She was given a maroon jacket — the same color as the rusty hair of her beloved Herefords — and a new set of responsibilities.
Board directors promote the breed via newsletters, appearances, hosting events for youth leaders and more, and also serve as resources for young showmen. At National Western, she and the other board members will help the showmen if their cattle aren’t cooperating and make sure each round of the competition is running smoothly.
Hinojosa said that’s one of the best things about being on the board — she gets to help kids who are standing where she stood most of her life.
Next summer, she will be eligible to run for a specific office on the board, and she hopes to be elected treasurer, since it would fall in line with her eventual career goals. She’s planning to major in agriculture economics and accounting, and eventually work for an organization like the National Hereford Association.
She’s already had a lot of the training for something like that, said her mother Linda Sidwell.
“Any kid that grows up in ag or 4-H, or involved in (a) breed association, it instills a lot of dedication and it instills what hard work is,” Sidwell said. “Having the opportunity to be a leader just makes your horizons that much bigger and better.”
Hard work and determination
During her 10 years in 4-H in Nebraska and Colorado, Hinojosa brought home a variety of awards, from showmanship championships to high marks in carcass contests, but it’s not the ribbons she remembers most about those 4-H seasons. It’s the lessons.
“It takes a lot of work to keep cattle in good condition. That’s really shaped my work ethic,” she said. “If I’m not putting forth all my effort, the end product is not going to be as good as what it could have been.”
One of her favorite memories is of a steer she had in high school she creatively named “Steer.” Steer was a quick learner and the two formed an immediate bond. One day, Hinojosa went to the barn to work with him and noticed he was limping. He’d broken his hip.
Despite the injury that should have ended his show career and could have even ended his life, Steer recovered and Hinojosa began training him again. He even competed at several events. She said she’d never seen anything quite like it — Steer the steer was determined to keep going.
So she decided she would too, even in algebra class.
On Dec. 13, Hinojosa received her final grades for the semester. She got straight A’s. ❖