Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

1408 PD: Be well-rounded to achieve success

Jimmy L. Horner Published on 29 September 2008

This young man leading the cow struck me as depicting both the bond between man and animal and the importance of passion.

I am of the opinion that students must have a true passion for what they are doing to truly succeed long-term. In my own experience, most young people that are involved in showing and judging dairy cattle typically possess this passion and love for the animals with which they work.



I do not mean to imply that other students will not be successful or that they may not be passionate about what they are doing. Yet the drawing of Student 1 evokes this interpretation for me since it is the only one which illustrates the bond between an individual and a cow (the whole cow). One could easily debate that the process of acquiring knowledge and the hands-on application of that knowledge are critical ingredients in attaining success, but an individual can take part in these practices out of obligation without any passion whatsoever.

Again, in my experience, most students involved in showing and judging cattle are motivated by their passion and ardent love of doing it. These students usually make an intentional choice to take part in these activities. Often, students involved in showing and judging are participating in these activities in their spare time, in addition to their school and work responsibilities.

I readily acknowledge that some students can have misplaced priorities and devote too much of their time and energy in extracurricular activities resulting in the neglect of their studies, and there must be a balance between academic and extracurricular endeavors. However, I firmly believe that those students with a well-rounded background of academic success, extracurricular involvement and community service stand a much better chance of long-term success.

At times, I have witnessed some of my dairy industry professional colleagues belittle or minimize the importance of those individuals involved in showing and judging activities. I suppose some believe all their acquired knowledge or status has rendered them more superior or more sophisticated in some way than those devoted to this aspect of our industry.

I have also known individuals at the university level who maintained that it is completely unnecessary to actually go and look at a cow prior to purchasing her on the premise that he could determine everything he needed to know about the cow by simply looking at her “numbers” on a sheet of paper. He might have very well possessed a passion for numbers, but in my view, he either lost, or possibly never possessed, a passion for the very creature from which the numbers were derived.


In my view, we simply cannot afford to forget the cow and her central role in our industry regardless of how technically savvy we may become. Showing and judging dairy cattle is a vital part of our industry in that it provides a tremendous opportunity for young people to develop a passion for the object of their work. These young people also learn the importance of being responsible for something; the value of hard work; and how to care for, nurture, protect and respect animals.

Although showing and judging may not be the most economically significant facet of our industry, the opportunities they provide and the values they instill in our young people should not be taken lightly and can frequently impact them for life. All too often our society in the pursuit of success or material gain sends the wrong message to young people in advocating career choices, suggesting they chose based solely on potential financial gain or taking the easy road.

As a former collegiate and 4-H dairy judging coach, I have always encouraged my students to choose a college major or career based on their individual passion(s) because, in my mind, doing what you love and sharing your love for what you do in every action you take is indeed true success.

All three of the students depicted in Progressive Dairyman’s drawings can each experience success to varying degrees, but without passion, they may give up too easily when the going gets rough, be afraid to take risks in life, be reluctant to be authentic to others and, subsequently, settle for a life of mediocrity and predictable existence.

Henri Frederic Amiel summed it up well in 1856 when he said:

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibly like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark." PD


Jimmy L. Horner
President & CEO
Protocol Technologies

“Having the ability to judge a dairy cow is very valuable in the dairy industry. In addition, the student acquires conversational skills that enable him or her to better converse about issues relevant to the dairy industry.”
– Case DeVries, Pacific Elements LLC