National Classic promotes breed, primes future generation
BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Simmental breed is founded on data, but it balances a science-backed approach with youth development. Both existed in tandem during the American Junior Simmental Association’s National Classic, hosted in Louisville, Ky.
“Here at the National Classic, we pride ourselves in our educational contests that we have throughout the week. We have a genetic evaluation quiz, a cattlemen’s quiz, a public speaking contest, a sales talk and a judging contest,” said Darla Aegerter, American Simmental Association junior activities director and foundation manager.
All the educational contests are… in addition to exhibiting some of the breed’s top genetics. The idea is to equip each attendee with the knowledge and skills necessary to face life in and out of the ring. Hunter Aggen, Minn., junior, is a testament to that goal.
“I’ve learned about many different things about cattle. I’ve made lots of friends and lots of connections that have helped me in places that go way beyond the cattle industry and the Simmental breed,” Aggen said. “They go way beyond that.”
Required to participate in four of the five activities, Aggen is one of 283 youths who participated in the 2019 program.
“Whether it’s at your hometown, in the grocery store or at a livestock show, wherever it may be across the country, you gain skills like being able to hold conversations and stand up for your own thoughts — all the stuff that comes from being around a bunch of other juniors that are pushing you to constantly be better and do better,” he said.
Beyond the friendships, Aggen said the diversity of genetics at the show represent the balance his family seeks in their herd back home.
“Balance is several different things. You want balanced phenotype, cattle that are going to type up in a showring that are going to be the right type and kind, but at the same time you want to have a balance of EPDs and genomic backing behind those cattle to where they can stand out,” he said.
The goal is balanced cattle that succeed in the ring and America’s pastures. And, of course, kids with a passion for Simmental who will someday blaze their own trail.
Consider, for example, Katherine Nemcovic, a young Florida junior member.
“I like cows because they’re nice when you work with them and they’re sweet — especially my heifer, Senorita. She’s the sweetest as can be,” she said.
At 8-years-old, Nemcovic looks up to other young exhibitors who give her words of advice and encouragement as she gets her start, more evidence the Simmental breed continues in a good direction.
Seedstock members or commercial producers wanting to learn more can visit simmental.org or contact the association at (406) 587-4531. ❖