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Foundations for a Bright Future

IMG_0041Last night and today there are some big events for our family.  No it’s not the Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show or some big sale.  No, no one is having a baby. Those days are behind us now.  What is happening is that my older brother is judging Canada’s national 4-H, The TD Canadian Classic 4-H Dairy Show, with  350 young dairy enthusiasts competing to see who is Canada`s  best!

From the age of 11 till I was 22 I competed in the then named Scotiabank Hays Classic.  Watching my brother in the center of the ring brought  back many emotions from those wonderful years.  Many lessons that I learned during those years  are the foundation for what  I do to this day.


Our family farm was located such that the schools we attended were mostly populated by urban kids.  When I told them that I had to miss a week of school for a cow show, or that I was heading away to t “clip” cows, this made many laugh.  But now much older in life and with children who also live an urban lifestyle, I am finding that some of the best lessons I learned were thanks to my rural upbringing.  Growing up I had the opportunity to do many different things.  I played competitive hockey, and was very involved in the local community, but it’s the lessons I learned in 4-H that stand out as the biggest influence on my life today.

When I was in 4-H the “Hays”, as we called it then, was the culmination of a year of hard work.  At that time only a limited number of kids could attend so to even be selected was a big deal.  Then  competing with the best from across Canada meant you had to work hard to achieve success.  For our family, this was one of the biggest events of the year.


My older brother, this year’s judge, my sister and I were extremely competitive..   This event combined two of our greatest loves, the thrill of competition and dairy cattle.  Dear brother  once stuck a pitchfork in my butt for not doing things as quickly as he wanted one year at this competition. Point taken! But that was just one of many opportunities to learn  new things while learning from and competing with new people. Thanks to this competition, we all made friendships that will last us a lifetime.  We also learned about how to push ourselves to higher levels.  It was not unusual to have family debates about who was the better showperson.  One goal I sought and achieved was placing in the top 10 every year for 10 years. Each of us raised our benchmark every year. But more importantly those early efforts and successes   fueled the  passion for the dairy industry that all three of us  have to this day!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As I look out into the ring at the 4-H Dairy Classic  and see my brother standing in the center, I think  about life coming full circle.  Paul has been very successful in his career and his family life.  As COO of Alta Genetics, he  has to do public speaking all the time and makes judgment calls on a daily basis, yet before he was set to judge these amazing kids, Paul admitted to nerves!.  We all know he will do a great job.  The nerves come from feeling the responsibility and remembering how much this competition  meant to him,  He knows how much it helped provide him with the foundation for  the success he has achieved. Now, as he watches today`s youth present their best efforts, he is seeing the bright future of our next generation of master breeders, agriculture executives and leaders of tomorrow. Fearsome and awesome —together again — in the dairy ring and in life!


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