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Shannon Yokley with Truman the TigerShannon Yokley, an agricultural journalism student at MU, will be writing quarterly columns for us about agriculture from a youth perspective. To learn more about Shannon, visit her blog, The Ag Lady.

I am a passionate, big-hearted aggie who hails from Jefferson City, Mo. I grew up living, breathing and loving every aspect of agriculture as I made my way from 4-H into FFA. In my youth, my projects ranged from country-cured hams to cake decorating, and from showing market hogs to scrapbooking. However, I discovered my love for cattle when I stepped foot inside my first show ring at the Cole County Fair at age eight. Ever since, my herd of registered Angus cattle and the beef industry have become a huge part of my life.

Nearly 13 years later, I have exhibited cattle on the local, regional, state and national levels, ranked nationally in the National 4-H Youth Livestock Judging Contest and received my American FFA degree. My cattle and the agriculture industry have allowed me to jump head first into my future, giving me a great opportunity to do what I love, every single day. Currently, and also throughout my youth, I was very active in the Missouri Junior Angus (MJAA) and Missouri Junior Cattlemen’s Associations (MJCA), where I try and live out my passion for the beef industry and share it with other young individuals.

I have learned countless things from being involved in the beef industry. Through raising and showing cattle, I have learned about livestock production and what it takes to manage a herd. I have learned about the feeding and nutrition part of cattle and how to prepare animals for show season. Working with my animals has taught me patience, persistence and how to work hard. As Missouri Angus Queen, I learned how to successfully market the Angus Breed and the beef industry in public, while at home I focused on marketing my performance tested bulls. Marketing is essential to every operation and each operation handles it differently based on their cattle and their customers.

In 2011, my 4-H livestock judging team won our state competition. In preparing for nationals, I spent some of my favorite days ever looking at some of the best livestock in the country. This experience has taught me that it is important to know and understand all kinds of livestock. Also, it is important to be knowledgeable about current issues in the industry such as diseases or other challenges our livestock face during production.

Reflecting on my years as a junior in the MJAA and MJCA, I have realized that there are many invaluable lessons I have learned through the beef and Angus industries. I learned how to be a leader through exhibiting my cattle, working inside and outside the show ring and at the farm with my dad. Through raising and showing cattle, it has taught me to think on my feet, be a good decision maker and it has taught me how to lose gracefully. I have learned to make new friends even through competition. I have learned how to work under pressure and to deal with something that has an invariable result. I have discovered that all things don’t come for free- it takes hard work, determination, and strength to get the outcome you desire. These lessons have taught me how to follow. In order to be a good leader, following must be the first step mastered. I can now apply this knowledge to my life as I grow older and progress into my career.

If you'd like to learn more about living in rural Missouri download our 10 Points to Consider Before Buying Rural Property.

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