Showing livestock today = great interview skills tomorrow: Teamwork

Demonstrating the ability to work as part of a team made up of yourself, your animal and other people will help you excel in the show ring, and in life.

According to Michigan State University Extension, youth and adults often speak of the hard work and responsibility learned from raising and caring for animals.  While that is certainly true, it would be short-sighted to say those are the only life skills taught through 4-H animal projects.  Showmanship skills, such as presenting your animal to a judge, are not just important in a show ring, but can be used in many facets of life.  Most life skills youth learn through showmanship are also needed when interviewing for internships, colleges and future careers. This series of articles takes a closer look at skills needed to be successful in a livestock showmanship class and how using those same skills will help youth in job interviews and perhaps even help them land their dream job.

Teamwork skills have always been important in life.  Whether you participate in a 4-H club, class, job or sports team there is usually more emphasis placed on the team than on an individual.  Being able to communicate and work on projects together is an important skill to utilize throughout life.  The concept of “team” is a little different in livestock showmanship as the team is comprised of a youth and an animal.  However demonstrating teamwork involves the same core principles of communication, responsibility and working together towards a common goal.  MSU Extension lists examples of good team work in the show ring to include:

  1. your animal responds well to your direction
  2. both the showman and animal appear relaxed and comfortable
  3. you and your animal move smoothly together.  

As many showmen understand, your skills and preparation do not matter much if your animal doesn’t cooperate and doesn’t want to be there.  You both must work together and perform your roles in order to do well as a team in the show ring.

Demonstrating the ability to work well in teams is also a valuable life skill to highlight to prospective employers.  Your teammates may not come from a barnyard, but the same skills and abilities are needed just applied a little differently. Three general questions will help you assess your abilities. 1) If you are leading a team, how do your teammates respond to your leadership?  Likewise as a member of a team, how do you respond to someone else’s leadership and direction? 2) Working in teams usually involves tasks that have some degree of difficulty, stress and time contrstaints.  Is your team high-functioning, able to manage the stress by trusting one another and feel comfortable working as a team?  This takes time and practice. 3) Can you work interchangeably on a team, supporting one another so the team moves forward?  Good teams move together as one unit.  Communicating to prospective employers your teamwork skills and experiences can help you stand out.

Raising and showing livestock imparts many vital and relevant life skills in today’s youth.  The ability to work as a strong member of a team is learned through 4-H, but applied throughout life.  Good livestock showmen make good job interviewers, giving them a competitive edge in the future workplace.  

To learn more about 4-H livestock projects or interviewing skills, contact the 4-H staff person in your county.

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