Grown with love

If you keep up with us on Facebook or Instagram, you might have noticed we have been doing a bit of traveling. The DP Sales Summer Tour 2017 left Kentucky and headed west over a week ago. 9 days later and nearly 2,800 miles later we pulled back into the driveway. DP usually does the summer solo, but this year he had some passengers along visiting breeders. Of course, Knox took home the popularity prize of the vehicle.

Here is what I love about traveling to people’s farms. When you pull into their driveway, you get to see what they love. Landscaping, machinery, playground equipment, peacocks, chickens, a cat or 10, kids, cows – its all there.

But let’s head to Auburn, Nebraska.

I am sure most of you know who John and Gwen McBee are that work for Bill Fulton at BF Black Simmentals. We have known them for many years, and I have known that they are avid gardeners . John is quite the cook, and I’m talking like awesome, outdoor, chuckwagon kind of cooking. Gwen brings the homemade jams, jellies, relish, and pickles to the table. Gwen and I share life through SnapChat, and I had recently been sharing with her my adventures in canning from our own garden. Hello, cucumbers who became pickles! So, on the Summer Tour I knew we had to make a stop at the McBee Ranch to check out their garden. Warning: pictures will not do it justice. 

If there was a HGTV show on gardening, John and Gwen would be the stars. It starts with a perfect little garden house complete with front porch and darling antiques. The building resembles a greenhouse and serves much the purpose. Gwen can bring her plants out when they are nearing planting, and let them enjoy the wonderful sunlight through the windows. The floor is natural so that helps it hold heat, and there is wood stove in case the temperature drops. Its dreamy with its large farmhouse table inside great for sorting vegetables or a Mother’s Day lunch. 

Step out on the porch and if you continue past the rocking chairs you are just a short walk to the garden oasis. You are welcomed by zinnias and marigolds, and then you can’t see over because of the HUGE tomato plants. Let me break this down for you: tomatoes; multiple varieties, eggplant, 3 varieties of potatoes, 2 varieties of beans, 2 varieties of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, horseradish, asparagus, garlic, beets, onions, leeks, okra, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and an impressive 10 different types of peppers. I’m sure I missed a vegetable, and did I mention they start almost all their seeds. All of which is planted neatly in a compact space. We’re not talking a huge garden, but every inch of space is used perfectly. Hello garden envy.

After the harvest is gathered and sorted in the garden dream house, it moves to the outdoor, garage kitchen that Gwen sets up shop in to can. Now I’ve only adventured slightly into canning, and it is hard, tedious work. Gwen had already canned over 100 jars when we were there, and by her SnapChats I know that she has been living and breathing canning since we left. Of course, she doesn’t just can things they grow in their garden, but also peaches and apples that they get as well. I’m pretty sure she could kick Martha Stewart’s butt. 

Their garden brings a sense of community to their property. Friends stop to pick up vegetables on their way home from work, and are able to enjoy a cold one on the painted benches or those wonderful rockers. I loved hearing both of them talk about the process of their garden, the labor of love the soil has been since they moved to Auburn, the wonderful varieties of fruits and vegetables, and of course, their favorites. We see people at cattle events and shows, but if you want to really know someone it takes going to their home and seeing what they are passionate about other than cows. It was evident as we spent a few hours at their home picking cherry tomatoes off the vine that this was most certainly grown with love.

Though I am sure I will never be the gardener and preserver than John and Gwen are, I did walk away with a bigger appreciation for how we can utilize the garden space at our house, and the need for an electric water bath… and a dreamy garden house.


Enjoy some of the photos of their wonderful garden paradise.


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Service with Style

Earlier this summer, a great member of the American Simmental Association retired after years of service to our breed and association. As a young junior member and then an AJSA Trustee Paulette Cochenour took the reins of organizing the junior program, our activities, and meetings of the Junior Board always dressed impeccable and classy. 

Paulette and I had a great relationship and friendship during my time on the junior board. We shared a love of good eyeliner and lots of laughs. Aleesa Hege Dickerson, Michelle Colgan Hall, and I shared a lot of laughs during our time on the junior board. I am very grateful for her service to our association and the past junior boards. Though I was sad to see her retirement from the ASA come, I know she is ready to be able to spend lots of time with those precious grandkids and all the activities she is involved in. As Paulette’s time at the ASA came to a close, Paulette took to social media to announce her retirement, and it was great to see all the ASA members, past AJSA members, and others congratulate her and share memories. P, you are definitely one of a kind!

When did you start with the ASA and in what capacity?

I was officially hired in May 1991. Brian Kitchen hired me for the specific purpose to organize and raise funds to host the World Simmental Federation Congress in October 1992. Brian told me that I would have a job for at least 18 months, but after that, there were no guarantees. That worked just right for me; and then, of course, you see that I was still hanging around in 2017.

Over the years what roles with the ASA have you fulfilled?

After the World Congress was all buttoned up, I was assigned to work with the youth program, international marketing through US Livestock Genetics, ASA Board, and ASA Publication, Inc. I have been lucky in my professional life to always be engaged in interesting work situations.

What’s the biggest change(s) you have seen in the breed and/or Association you have seen?

Breed acceptance and financial security are the most prominent. Having neither a livestock nor agriculture background, I quickly learned that not everyone was as excited as I was to be involved in this national association. ASA was besieged by lawsuits from members and our reputation in the commercial beef industry was at its lowest; however, for me, I thought I had the best job in Bozeman. Because of the variety of job responsibilities, each day was different ~ I had freedom to work and be creative in each of my areas.

What is your most memorable moment, event, from your time with the ASA?

I think it’s safe to say, that the 1992 World Congress during The State Fair of Texas in Dallas, is the largest, most comprehensive and challenging project I have every been involved with during my work lifetime. You have to remember, this was before cell phones, and easy communication, plus there was no online registration (everything came directly to the ASA office) ~ eight ASA staff members spent 10 days in Dallas managing 10 buses; nearly 900 attendees representing 28 countries. All the meetings were simultaneously interpreted so that attendees could listen in their own language. The registrants visited area ranches, attended cattle shows, social events ~ it was huge.

What do you believe is the biggest strength of the breed and/or association?

The members, the programs, the staff ~ all work together to make ASA the progressive leader in this industry. My experience with members has always been productive. I find ASA members to progressive, forward thinking and willing to embrace new ideas to make their cattle better.  Although, ASA isn’t the biggest in cattle registrations, I’m confident that we have the most progressive and innovate programs and have a more educated view of the bigger picture. ASA has a dedicated staff ~ I feel like the programs and the status in the industry will continue to be strong.

What are your plans now that you’re retired?

This summer has been crazy busy with my family ~ keeping up with them requires a shuttle service ~ from horse riding camps, golf, tennis, children’s theatre, basketball and swimming, there’s hardly any time to work; however, lunch with the nice glass of wine with my friends is always in order. I do a good bit of hiking and golf, though and after school starts, I will get in more of that, too.

What have you enjoyed most about your time with the ASA?

Without question, the best part of working at ASA has been the people.  To qualify that a bit, I’m talking the people who I met as little kids. I love seeing how happy they are as adults, their success in their careers, their darling children, and knowing that we will always be friends. I love Facebook, just for that!! My parents instilled in me that if you were respectful and nice to little kids and old people, you would always have friends. Now that I’m that old person, I find it to be true.




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The bell

The dust has finally settled on a great summer show season with the American Junior Simmental Association. For a lot of you, its time to head back to school. AJSA members have hung their banners and ribbons, stored their new luggage, and all that new show equipment is stored away in the barn until the next show. For a few AJSA members though, they had to find the perfect place to display a special award. It needs just the right place to display it, whether it be hung or sitting, the Swiss cow bell deserves its rightful place. The “bell” as we will refer to it is comparable to an Emmy or Oscar for AJSA members. Its that one award we all long to win, but only a select few will attain.

The Swiss bell that is awarded to the overall junior, intermediate, and senior high contestants at the National Classic, and regional; if the state chooses to award, is something AJSA members yearn to win. Many of them have seen brothers, sisters, family members, or friends work to achieve the honor and get to ring the bell. A bell, you might ask? Why? 

Of course most of us know that the Simmental breed of cattle originated in Switzerland. Cattle were adorned with bells so that the farmer could easily identify their herd. Different bells have different meanings to identify certain characteristics of an animal such as age, sex, or species. Can you imagine carrying one of these around your neck all the time? In Western Europe, when the snow has melted in the spring, villages send the cows to the high meadows in the mountains to graze, and do so by a ceremony called Alpaufzug. Villages celebrate this with a procession of the cattle through the village to the pastures. The cows are even decorated with floral wreaths on their head and horns. The best milk-producing cow in the village leads the parade like a grand marshall and wears the largest bell. Bells are made in various sizes, and cows are awarded them based on their milk production that year. 

Similarly, the AJSA is awarded bells; many times of various sizes based on age division to the junior members who excel above their peers in the overall point standing of the contests and cattle show combined. As a AJSA member myself, I can remember watching others win the bell and ringing it loud and proud. At this year’s national classic I was reminded of the conquest to capture the bell by Morgan Phillips. As you might have seen from Facebook, this was Morgan’s final year as an AJSA member, and her last shot at winning the bell. Her hardwork during the week paid off as Morgan was named Top Overall Senior Contestant and was able to ring her own bell. Morgan reminded me of the great honor and privilege it was to win the bell, and the prestige a junior member felt might finally making that dream a reality. Thus it inspired me to go back and ask other former and current AJSA members what it meant to them to win the bell. 

Morgan Phillips :: Overall Senior 2017

Like many long-time AJSA competitors, winning the bell has been a goal of mine since my first national classic in Sedalia, Missouri in 2005. For years I admired each person who had their name called at the end of the banquet and as they rang their bell. Now that I have been successful in winning the bell I have such a sense of pride. I am proud to have joined the elite group of AJSA members to have earned this prestigious award. Many of you know that I was extremely emotional when I received my bell. I was overcome with joy and excitement that this dream had finally come true. My advice to all AJSA members is to never give up and think that the bell is out of reach. For me, it was well worth the wait.

Faith Onstot :: Overall Senior 2016

The Swiss Cow Bell is something every junior exhibitor dreams about winning one day. Ringing the bell for the first time gives you a rush unlike any other. It is an award designed to showcase the hard work and perseverance of one lucky individual for each age division. When you win a bell you get to join an elite group of individuals who have won in years past. I remember when I first saw a list of people who had won a bell and thinking to myself “I will be on that list someday”.  In 2013, I was fortunate enough to win the intermediate overall title and take the bell home. I will never forget the overwhelming joy I felt. Fears of public speaking were diminished, the sales talk techniques were perfected, and the cattlemen’s quiz was finally mastered. The long nights studying for that exact moment had paid off. The very same day I set a goal to win another Swiss Bell before my junior career would come to a close. I wanted to have the same feeling one more time. Three years later in 2016 I would be blessed to ring the Senior Division Bell for the final time. This memory will be one I cherish for a lifetime because it shows anything is possible if you work hard and It taught me the importance of setting challenging goals. The Swiss Bell is so much more than just another award. It is a tradition within the Simmental breed which has been and will be passed down from generation to generation.

Rachel Dickson :: Overall Junior 2014, 2015

These are two days of my life I will never forget. Not only to win “the bell” once, but to win it twice has really opened my eyes and made me even more thankful that I get to do what I love every single day, show and raise Simmental cattle. Winning “the bell” has really proven to myself that all of my hard work really does pay off. The countless hours studying for the Cattlemen’s Quiz, the many long dreaded Salestalk practice speeches with my family (or whoever else would listen), and all of the long, late nights perfecting my showmanship skills in the barn. Winning “the bell” has really given me confidence in all aspects of my life, from public speaking to showmanship, that I need to succeed. It makes me feel so thankful and blessed to win “the bell” on two separate occasions and it is an honor to be a part of a small group of juniors that have achieved such accomplishment. To all the juniors out there, hard work does pay off and believing in yourself is the key.

Amanda Eberspacher Hilbrands :: Overall Senior 2008

It’s hard to believe that the 2008 National Classic in Witcha Falls TX was 9yrs ago already but that is one I will never forget. So many memories made with great friends in and out of the showring and when you ask me about it, a pretty big smile will creep across my face. Cashmere rocked the bred and owned division and I remember my contests had been going really well. I was more nervous for the banquet than usual and it came down to myself and my great friend/roomie/partner in crime for the week Valerie Ujazdowsi for Overall Senior. The anticipation was killing us but when I heard “In 2nd place…. from Wisconsin..” my heart couldn’t have soared any higher. At that moment, all the hard work and dedication and time spent all came together. Growing up watching the “older kids” like Jay Thissen, Blake Bloomberg, Ashley Moore, Brandi Bourg and many others fight for that top title, I always said to myself “I’m going to win that someday.” There is something very special about the “Bell Club” and the confidence it continues to give you past your AJSA years that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I encourage the juniors still competing to fight hard for that bell. The view from the top is pretty awesome.

Kylee Sigmon :: Overall Intermediate 2012, 2014

From the time I won High First Time Junior contestant at my first Junior national in 2009, I set my sights on winning my own Swiss Cow Bell. For me that was the epitome of personal growth and success within the American Junior Simmental Association. The next two years I received Reserve Overall Contestant, until 2012 when I finally got to ring my first “bell” (I actually didn’t receive a bell as a prize that year ). That moment in Lima, Ohio is one I will never forget. I felt a huge rush of humbling satisfaction and gratitude knowing that my hard work had paid off and that I had been bestowed an honor that nearly all juniors dream of.

Ellen Tom :: Overall Junior 1997

I was involved in a lot of activities growing up but it never failed that every year the event I always looked most forward to was attending the AJSA National Classic. Looking back on that time period my fondest memories all seem to stem back to showing Simbrahs and the friends I made during that time. I won “the bell” 20 years ago at the 1997 Classic in Spokane, Washington. Winning the bell is still one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of because it’s a symbol of being a being a well-rounded competitor in a variety of disciplines. While many of the awards I won throughout my youth have been discarded, my cow bell resides in the conference room of my ranch office.

Blake Bloomberg – Overall Junior: 1999, 2000  Overall Senior: 2006

In my opinion it is the pinnacle of showing Simmentals at the junior level. It is something that I still cherish to this day.


Perhaps no one more than Blake Bloomberg sparked my own personal goal to win the bell. Blake was an extremely competitive AJSA member both in the contests and in the show ring. As you can see, he won the bell several times during his AJSA career. I hope that AJSA members today can look to someone as a mentor, role model, or even competitor and challenge themselves to set goals. Maybe it isn’t to win the bell, but perhaps its to get over your fear of public speaking that Faith spoke about, placing in the top 10 or 20 of your favorite contest, or raising the Grand Champion Bred & Owned. We all have our own paths to get to where our dreams are leading us. In 2001, I was named second overall junior in Fort Collins, Colorado behind Katie Fields. I won a nice belt buckle, but it wasn’t the bell I was hoping for. I studied, prepared, and focused on the summer of 2002. And in 2002, I won my bell.

We all have a “bell” within our sights. It could pertain to school, sports, work, personal growth, livestock, AJSA, or your state association. Something that motivates us to do more, set goals, and achieve something out there in the world. Whatever it may be, may you capture it and ring it proudly!





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Marketing at fall sales


Now accepting consignments for these two state association sponsored fall sales:

Generations of Value
August 26th
Sponsored by the Georgia Simmental-Simbrah Association

Fall Harvest
September 2nd
Sponsored by the North Carolina Simmental Association

Remember when sending in consignments:

1. Submit consignments using the electronic nomination form on our website. Click here
2. All animals must be registered with the American Simmental Association, if applicable. No pending registrations will be printed.
3. On a cow/calf pair: calves on the side of cows must be registered.
4. An original registration paper MUST be turned in to DP staff at the sale.
5. On embryos: sire and donor dam must be registered and parent verified. Please bring a copy of your recovery sheet and the embryos to the sale.
6. All animals need to have a high quality posed photo. This greatly assists with the marketing of your animal. No cell phone photos will be accepted for catalog use.
7. All animals must have the necessary health requirements completed before arriving at the sale site and be accompanied by a health paper issued by your vet. 
Both associations have great membership events in conjunction with these sales. For more information:


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The final drive….

By now the trailers have pulled out of the driveway, and many have began pulling into Hattiesburg, Mississippi for the 2017 AJSA National Classic. But what if when you closed the trailer door, it was your last time? Your last time driving away from your house headed to the National Classic. Your last radio blaring, family road trip headed to wherever the destination this year might be.

Your last AJSA National Classic is comparable to graduating high school. It’s like a right of passage out of the comforts of the familiar and headed into the world of being an adult (ah!) Simmental breeder. Unlike high school graduation, there are no invitations, parties, or gifts. Many people don’t even bring it up. It’s only prevalent to the AJSA member and their family. For many of them it changes their summers, their family vacation, and what they have done for the last 10+ years.

I want to talk about it though. I want to acknowledge everyone of you whose last year it is because you know what? I’ve been there. In 2009, in Columbus, Indiana I, too finished my AJSA career. Did I win grand champion? no. Did I win overall? no. It was actually the only time in my entire AJSA career that I didn’t compete in every contest. Our unspoken rule in our family was that if we were attending you competed in everything. In 2009, I told my dad I was skipping the judging contest. I had competed in every contest for 12 years, but not this year. I’m not telling you this story, last timers, for you to skip contests this year. The moral of the story – enjoy it. Enjoy the good, the bad, the not so great contest, and most importantly the friends and the memories.

So, today I would like to celebrate some of the AJSA members who got in the truck and are traveling to Mississippi for their final AJSA National Classic. We reached out to a lot of last timers, and below we are happy to showcase some of their memories and advice. Perhaps most importantly, giving them an opportunity to thank those who have helped them in their AJSA career. If more come in this week, we will share those as well. I’ll be honest, this group is hard for me to watch move on. These are some exceptional young people, who I’m gonna make myself sound old, but I remember them as little boys and girls beginning their path through the AJSA. I have been a cheerleader for this group as they did great things. I am so proud of them.

For now, like Green Day sings, “I hope you had the time of your life.”

Morgan Phillips :: Maysville, Kentucky

What was your first AJSA event? My first AJSA Event as a competitive member was the 2005 Eastern Regional Classic in Harrisburg, PA. My novice career started in Oklahoma 2000.

What has been your most memorable moment as an AJSA member? This is a tough question because I have so many fond memories in the AJSA.  My most memorable moment as an AJSA member would have to be being elected to the AJSA Board of Trustees. Although I have won several contests and numerous cattle shows, and made a lot of friends, being on the board tops it all.  Serving our membership in this position was such a rewarding experience.  Our board had a purpose and in my opinion we accomplished so many things that helped to improve our association.

If you could give advice to a young AJSA member, what would it be? The advice that I would give younger members is to be competitive, but always be humble.   My best friends came from the AJSA and I love competing against them.  Deep down, I always hoped to win the Swiss Bell, but I am always happy for my friends when they are successful.  I would also encourage all young people to step out of their comfort zone and compete in all contests.  The fear you have when doing those contests is only temporary, but the benefits and skills you learn will last forever.  Do not take a single minute of your junior career for granted because I promise it goes by fast.

What has the AJSA taught you? The AJSA has taught me more than I had ever imagined it could. It taught me how to work, how to win, how to lose, how to be a good teammate, how to lead a group of people, and so much more. When I was elected to the AJSA board of trustees, I was not so sure about working with a group that I would only see two to three times per year. Being on the board taught me that communication is key and that a group of people that are so diverse can come together and complete tasks. The people that I have met through the AJSA and the lessons I have learned since joining have truly made me the person I am today.

Anyone you would like to thank? Although there is no possible way to mention everyone that has aided in my junior career, there are a few that I need to mention.  These include Doug Parke, Bob MacGregor, JR Boulden,  Miranda Kaiser and the Hudson Pines Farm crew,  Craig McCallum and the entire Circle M Farms crew,  the ASA Board of Trustees, the ASSF Board members, and all of those who support and believe in the future of the AJSA.  I owe so many thanks to my grandparents, Uncle Keith, Aunt Lindsay, my brother AK, and my parents, Chan and Tonya.  Lastly, I thank my Lord and Savior who has allowed me to show cattle all across this nation, meet great people, and answered my every prayer for 22 years.

Shelby Ison :: Atlanta, Indiana

What was your first AJSA event? My first AJSA National Classic was in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2002.

What has been your most memorable moment as an AJSA member? There have been multiple memorable moments throughout my fifteen years in the AJSA program. They have ranged from painting keepsake boxes as a novice, water fights after the shows, fireworks on the drive to nationals, racing down the hill in Iowa, breaking down in Iowa on the way back from Nebraska to our county fair, placing in the top ten with heifers we raised, receiving all three AJSA merit awards, being the first recipient of the Nathan Adkins Memorial Scholarship, and meeting friends from all over this great nation. It would be impossible to narrow down my time in this program to just one moment as I have experienced so much. However, I am eternally grateful for each moment I have been blessed within this amazing program.

If you could give advice to a young AJSA member, what would it be? Enjoy every moment you have as a Junior, be humble in both your wins and losses, and say thank you to those who got you where you are. Time goes by a lot faster than you think. Never take anything or anyone for granted. Shake the judges hand regardless of how you did in the ring and always walk out with your head held high. Make sure that you jump for any opportunity presented to you, whether that is meeting a new friend or running for a trustee position. The last thing you want to do is get to the end of this road and have any regrets.

What has the AJSA taught you? The AJSA has taught me that family is everything. I have always said that I have many families. I have my cattle, FFA, 4-H, school, church, and blood related families. They all hold a special place in my heart, but I have a definite fondness for my cattle family. The people that make up my cattle family have slid in without me even knowing it over my entire time in the AJSA program and the cattle industry. They are the kind of people that will drive all the way to Adair, Iowa with two trucks and a flatbed trailer to pick you up after your truck broke down coming home from a national classic and get you back in time for the county fair. They are the kind of people who will sit you down and remind you what is truly important even if it is not what you may have wanted to hear after a difficult day. They are also the kind of people that are there to laugh and cry with you and without a doubt be there when you need it the most. I would not trade my cattle family for the world.

Anyone you would like to thank? I have been blessed that the number of people that I could list would be seemingly infinite. I have much to be grateful for and I could never say thank you enough to the people that have gotten me to where I am today. However, I would like to thank everyone that is involved with putting together the fantastic national and regional classics that I have had the opportunity to attend, Randy Smith, Scott Sinnamon and family, the Herr, Meinders. and McGurk families, Nancy Adkins, Nana Willis and family, Jame Kreiger and family, Doug Parke and family, all of my AJSA and IJSA friends and family, my grandparents and family, and above all else my mother, father, and sister. Those last three people have without a doubt shaped me the most in my time as an AJSA member. I strive to live every day to make my mother proud and I know I would not be the person I am today without her. My dad has driven me to every single nationals and regionals, fit all of my calves, and encouraged me every step of the way. My sister has allowed me to continue to follow my passions even while attending college and I could not ask for a better friend and partner in crime. I know I have missed some people and I can only hope that they know how much I appreciate all that they have done, are doing, or will do for me. Thank you!

Jody Bargary :: Tonganoxie, Kansas

What was your first AJSA event? My first AJSA event was the in Sedalia, MO at the 2011 AJSA National Classic. I showed my first Purebred Simmental heifer named Shoeshine.

What has been your most memorable moment as an AJSA member? While there have been many memorable moments during my time participating in AJSA events, my most memorable was this past week at the North Central Regional Classic in Huron, SD. I was fortunate enough to show the 5th overall bred and owned purebred heifer. It was my last show that I would exhibit cattle at as a junior, and the heifer I showed was out of my favorite cow that I previously showed in AJSA events as a heifer. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my last time in the show ring. Being able to work towards that end goal with a heifer that I had raised just reminded me of why we’re here as exhibitors and cattle producers, and what we’re all trying to work towards.

If you could give advice to a young AJSA member, what would it be? If I could give advice to a young AJSA member, I would just say go for it. Whether you’re doing sales talk or showmanship, don’t too worried about messing up or doing something wrong that you don’t give it 100%. If you really put yourself out there with everything you do, you will get the most out of every experience.

What has the AJSA taught you? Looking back on my experience as an AJSA member, there is an endless list of what the AJSA has taught me. For me, the AJSA has taught me to really step outside of my comfort zone. During my first AJSA event, I was shy and was just trying to make it through all of the contests. By the end of the week, I had made some friends during these contests and relaxed a little bit. Through many more events and contests I became more comfortable with striking up conversation between peers and adults aswell. As a result, I began taking on challenges that I had never previously thought about trying. I ran for the AJSA Board of Trustees after being involved with the breed for just four years, and was able to get elected at the National Classic in 2015. The AJSA has really helped me come outside of my shell and helped me achieve goals I would have been very intimidated by if I had not become so involved in the association.

Anyone you would like to thank? There is a list of people I would like to thank, but my parents rise to the top of that list very quickly. My father and I have always enjoyed raising cattle together. While he has not been able to go to every show with me, he always makes sure I have the tools I need to succeed. My mother also makes sure I have the tools I need to succeed, especially at shows. We all know how busy shows can get between contests and cattle, and my mom makes sure both myself as well as my calves are doing okay at all times. Almost everybody knows that most the work is done at home, and both of my parents have been by my side in helping with that too. From helping me walk heifers in the morning to feeding them when I’m at school, they help me with anything I need. I truly would not be where I am today without the support of my parents, and that’s something I will never be able to thank them enough for.

Britney Beins Francis :: Deweyville, Utah 

What was your first AJSA event? My first AJSA event was the Western Regional Show in Moses Lake, Washington; I’d like to think was around 2008. I competed at Western Regionals for a couple years when we attended my first Jr. Nationals in 2011 in Sedalia, Missouri.

What has been your most memorable moment as an AJSA member? As a member of the AJSA and being a Jr trustee, I’ve had more memorable moments than I could possibly count, but probably my two most favorite memories would be the friendships and colleagues made through not only the simmental breed but the beef industry as well. Having friends across the nation who share a common interest is an amazing experience. My family and I have been so lucky to be taken in and accepted by everyone in the AJSA. The second memory would be the life lessons and skills we as members pick up while competing at a young age will always be mind blowing. As a trustee sitting on the side as junior members gain confidence year after year and striving for their goals is always a heart warming moment, one I’ll never forget.

If you could give advice to a young AJSA member, what would it be? My advice to an AJSA member would be, no matter how you do in any competition or how you place in a show don’t ever be disappointed in yourself or put others down. Always be positive, be a supportive friend and push yourself harder for the next time. A champion was once a contender who refused to give up.

What has the AJSA taught you? The AJSA has taught me that there is always a part of yourself you’d never know is there until you push yourself out of your comfort zone. I never thought I’d be as good of a public speaker, livestock judger, or cattlemen if I didn’t try at every opportunity given. You just have to believe in yourself.

Anyone you would like to thank? I’d like to first off thank my parents for their endless support, pushing me to be my best and the many hours driving to shows for us girls. My sisters and husband. To Hannah Wine, for being the best youth advisor and being fun yet strong for dealing with all the youth. And the Lord above, for being a silent guide in life.

Jessica Smith :: Picayune, Mississippi

What was your first AJSA event? My first AJSA event was the 1999 National Classic in Hutchison, Kansas. My older brother, Alan, was just old enough to start competing, and I was a satiny little novice. Those novice years were the best years of my life.

What has been your most memorable moment as an AJSA member? Over the past 18 years, countless memories have been made. From driving to the 2001 Junior Nationals in Fort Collins, CO without A/C in our truck to spending Independence Days watching fireworks from tie-outs, we’ve made memories through the good and the bad. There are too many good stories to tell, but one of my favorite and definitely most memorable moments has to be at the 2005 Junior Nationals in Sedalia, MO. It was my very first National Classic to compete in, and with a few years of novice practice under my belt, boy was I ready to run with the big kids. At the end of our week at the awards banquet, I was stunned to hear my name called out with my older brother and his friends for Top 20 Public Speaking. As they called the names out, starting at 20th place, and on down to 1st, I found myself standing in the top 3. Sure enough, I won the Public Speaking contest that year, and I don’t know who was more shocked, me or the room full of AJSA members and their parents! It was so awesome to see my hard work and practice pay off, and it made it even sweeter to beat my older brother.

If you could give advice to a young AJSA member, what would it be? Advice…hmm… I could write a book. My main piece of advice is to take advantage of every opportunity: in the show ring, in a contest, and especially out in the barns. Seize the opportunity to show off your animals that you have been preparing for months for the show; enjoy those few minutes with the judge. Seize the opportunity to learn something new in a contest, even if you hate giving a speech in front of judges or giving oral reasons for the judging contest; you are building life skills. Seize the opportunity to mingle with people from all parts of the United States; make new friends; these are relationships you will have for years to come.

What has the AJSA taught you? The AJSA has not taught me one given thing but many, many things about being a successful leader, a good cattleman, and a great friend. The AJSA has helped mold me into who I am today and will remain a part of me forever. This isn’t the end for my AJSA involvement. I mean, what else would I do every second or third week in July? Go to the beach and Disney World like normal people? No thanks.

Anyone you would like to thank? A HUGE thank you to the ASA Staff and Board members for all of their hard work in making sure the AJSA stays strong, past AJSA members and trustees for being great role models for me to look up to, my parents for hauling me thousands of miles the last 18 years, and all of the many friends that have turned into family along the way. Y’all have made these years worthwhile. And I can’t forget to thank God for blessing me to be a part of something bigger than myself. We owe it all to Him and the Simmental cow.











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Heart for Youth

Mark and Debbie Smith

No matter your involvement in the Simmental breed, if you haven’t been living under a rock I am going to bet that you know who Mark and Debbie Smith of Picayune, Mississippi are. Their children, son Alan and daughter Jessica have both been active AJSA members and have served on the AJSA Board of Trustees. Mark and Debbie have been outstanding supporters and cheerleaders of the breed and the AJSA. Most importantly, Mark and Debbie are some of the most wonderful people I have had the opportunity to meet.

Debbie is the example of a beautiful Southern lady. She has such a kind heart, beautiful hair (hey, in the South its important), and gentle voice. She speaks the truth with a Southern accent, and gives God all the glory for everything in her life and heart. Mark is always in your corner. He is willing to listen and support however he can. Mark is passionate about our breed and our youth, and there isn’t anyone a bigger advocate than he. They have given many years to serving the Mississippi Simmental-Simbrah Association, its juniors, and have hosted several successful AJSA events.

Coordinating and hosting an event like the AJSA National Classic takes a lot of dedication and hard work. As many of you know from hosting events, shows, and conferences being in a position of leadership can be a thankless job. I can guarantee with Mark and Debbie at the reins along with the Mississippi Simmental-Simbrah Association members, this will be a National Classic you won’t want to miss.  Let’s learn more their hopes for the upcoming junior nationals, and what years of AJSA supporting looks like.

What can AJSA members and their families expect from a Mississippi hosted event?

Number one: Hospitality! Our association is packed with friendly folks to make you feel welcome in South Mississippi. Other things to expect are good food, a family atmosphere, and a relaxed, laid back week. From our southern fried catfish to jambalaya, you’ll be sure to taste some of our culture! Not to mention, with live music almost every night, you’ll get to experience the historical sounds of the south. So just get ready to sit for a spell after supper, yes we still call it supper, and let the music be an enjoyable way to end each day!

The Smith Family (L to R) Debbie, Jessica, Sara, Ross Alan, Alan, and Mark

What is your state association most looking forward to by hosting the national classic?

Giving back to an organization that means so much to all of our children is what has driven us to this point.  Many states have hosted so many wonderful classics, and we want to treat everyone with that same kindness. The AJSA is a family, and we want everyone to feel right at home.

We hope to meet new people, visit with old friends, and make some lasting memories. We hope people see that we are a determined association, maybe small in number but big in heart.
We are so excited for the week and are very thankful to host. We’re also hoping everyone leaves being glad that they came!

What’s the biggest struggle hosting nationals?

The biggest struggle is knowing what to expect: how many hotel rooms you’ll need….how many meals to prepare….how much money will it really take?  Without having a budget or balance sheet from previous hosts, we hope to provide one after this. It could serve as merely a guideline for next year’s host and maybe some in the future. Of course it was a challenge to raise the money for an event this size, but thanks be to God we were blessed by so many sponsors!

What’s the biggest reward?

The biggest reward has to be getting new juniors involved with the AJSA, especially those close to us. Seeing a first-time contestant enjoy a Jr Nationals for the 1st time is priceless.

If the event goes to a rotation of a few cities, it won’t give associations like ours the opportunity to ever host. Which in turn leaves a lot of juniors without the opportunity to ever experience a National Classic. We have been involved and loved the National Classic ever since our first experience in Murfreesboro, TN many years ago.

Your daughter Jessica finishes her  AJSA career this year. Will this be the last event with Mark and Debbie as coordinators?

Good question –  we will definitely stay involved but would like to take a back seat and support someone else while they take the lead. Mark is on the Foundation Board and would like to influence fundraising on a national level. We need this event and the junior association to continue to grow…The Youth is our Future!

Over your years of involvement with the AJSA what’s the biggest change you have seen in the hosting of the Regionals and/or nationals?

MJSSA members at the Dixie National

When we first began traveling the many miles for AJSA events, most states didn’t even have a hospitality stand or much less feed a meal. We loved our tomato sandwiches and bologna, and we made it just fine. But it sure was nice when meals and even snacks were offered. It’s not just being hospitable to provide head amenities for guests, but it serves as a time for members and parents to come together at the table after a contest or at the end of the day and visit.

Another change has been in the junior board and their involvement of the whole National Classic process. It’s so nice to see the junior board being a part of the behind the scenes aspect of jr nationals but also the grunge work that must be done during the event. Many hours of hard work and a great deal of money has been poured into the association to help build the young leaders of today. I wish we could have seen that kind of support in the past for previous trustees, but I’m hopeful for future generations.

Anyone you would like to thank?

Mostly God,  for blessing us with the Simmental cow and allowing us to be stewards on this Earth. Thanks to everyone that has had anything to do with hosting the last 21 years!  Boy do we have a bank of memories!!!!

On a more local level:

Greg, Frank, and Erma Brown, for their influence in our involvement with Simmental breed.

Edwin & Lynn Todd, for allowing thier children to showcase our cattle and letting us tag along with them to all regionals and nationals during those years.

Our MSSA membership, for having the confidence in our abilities and for being in one mind and one accord, and  of course for praying for us. Their support has pushed us onward!

Last but certainly not least, a mighty thanks to our sponsors! We are very blessed from the smallest donations to the largest: this event could not happen without you!!! Thank you!!!

On behalf of the entire Simmental breed and as a family dedicated to supporting the AJSA as well, thank you for all you have done for the AJSA, and for all that you will do in the next two weeks. If you head down to Mississippi, take a moment to thank the Smiths, Branums, and the entire MSSA membership for hosting the 2017 AJSA National Classic.

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Create your adventure in Mississippi

As a young AJSA member heading off to the junior nationals, it was always exciting to get gathered up with all the Kentucky members and head off in our convo to another show.  It was always an adventure. We have set on the side of the road (numerous times) because someone in the group had a blow out, wrote rap songs about each other, and styled someone’s hair when they were asleep.

So, it is only fitting that the host city for this year’s AJSA National Classic tag line is, “Create your own adventure!” Simmental families from across the United States, and I do mean across, “Hey there Bein’s family!”, will pack up and head south to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This isn’t Hattiesburg first welcome party to AJSA members. Back in 2012, the Mississippi Simmental-Simbrah Association hosted the Eastern Regional Classic.

Though most of you will have never traveled there before, I did some leg work for you on some things to see and eat while in the ‘burg.

Let’s start with eat. Now I know the great people from Mississippi will be feeding us a lot at the show, but incase mom’s and dad’s are looking for a meal away from the kids.

  • Chesterfield’s – Let’s face it. We are in the south, and in the near vicinity of the ocean. I expect seafood. Chesterfield’s has this amazing cheesy crab bread for an appetizer/meal/who cares what time you eat just do. Steaks are good as well, especially when said seafood is added.
  • Crescent City Grill – More seafood yumminess. They feature a big menu with lots to choose from. Pick one appetizer – I dare you. It’s hard too many choices. Crab wontons.
  • Keg & Barrel – This one is on our list of must tries this year. Famous for burgers and southern food.
  • Cotton Blues – Another one added to the list for this year. Who doesn’t love a place where they specialize in using products and foods made and grown in Mississippi. Ag people can definitely get behind that.

    2012 Eastern Regionals

For those of who looking to venture off the fairgrounds for some adventure, Hattiesburg has a zoo. Knox and I are thinking about starting a “See how many zoo’s we can visit.”

And last but not least, I know some of you (Amy and Jennifer Tarr) have been dreaming about just how far the Gulf of Mexico is from Hattiesburg. In about and hour and a half you can touch your toes in the water in Gulfport.

No matter what, people in the south know the importance of wonderful hospitality. I can guarantee you the Mississippi Simmental-Simbrah Association will at the gate welcoming you to their great state and invite you to share in the wonderful adventure that is the AJSA summer experience.


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The gift of books

No matter if you are trying to build great, young leaders or just great young people in general, teaching them the act of service and giving, we believe is a very important trait. Especially in the world we live in today. Everyone has certain areas, organizations, or causes that are near and dear to their heart that they choose to give to.

As Simmental breeders, business owners, and past AJSA members we love that the AJSA and the Junior Board have implemented service projects into the summer regionals and National Classic.

As many of you know Holli and Drew’s son Knox was born premature, and spent two months in Nationwide Children’s Hospital with a congenital heart defect. That same year (2014) was the first year the AJSA Junior Board decided to do a service project. They chose Project Linus which makes blankets for sick children in the hospital. Knox was the recipient of two blankets from Project Linus at our hospital. At the 2014 Junior Nationals, the Junior Board presented them and the Bloomberg family with a blankets made during their Project Linus campaign. 

Once again, this year we are excited about the service project selected, Literacy for Little Ones. Literacy for Little Ones provides books to families in neonatal intensive care units. As parents of a graduate of a unit much like neonatal, we know the importance this plays in a new families life. We were not able to hold Knox for quite some time without supervision, tubes, and wires due to his health. He laid in an isolate to be viewed like a painting you weren’t allowed to touch. But through reading, we were able to interact with him, share with him, and be with him even though we weren’t able to hold him like a normal newborn. 

So, of course, we want to do all we can do to help little ones like Knox and their families. Knox has already been gathering up some books to take with him to the Junior Nationals. DP Sales Management will be attending the National Classic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and we would be happy to take along your book donations. We know that not everyone can make it to Mississippi, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be apart of this awesome service project.  You can bring books to us at the Eastern Regional this week if you aren’t making the trip to Mississippi or I have made an Amazon Book List (click here) of some great children’s books that you can purchase, send a gift message, and they will mail straight to us. We will then load them up and take them to Hattiesburg for the Children’s of Mississippi Medical Center.

If you choose to order from Amazon and have them mailed to us please make sure you sign the gift message so that we know who they are from and where. We would love to share that with the AJSA Junior Board, and who knows we might have a drawing for a prize or two.

The world would be a better place if we all took a little time out of our day to serve others and give of ourselves and our hearts. We are so glad that the AJSA is fostering that in its young leaders.

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Let’s Talk: Sales Talk

It would be no secret that Sales Talk was my favorite contest at the AJSA events, and it is also one of my favorite to judge. I guess you could say the contest came easy to me due to my dad, background, and future line of work. Sales Talk should be a fun contest, but junior members are actually able to interact with their judges instead of simply speaking to them such as public speaking. As I spoke of in my public speaking post, we have great AJSA educational events, but sometimes lack preparing those newbies on what to expect. Everyone “sells” themselves and their animals differently, but I thought we would look at some of the tips that worked for me as AJSA member winning the contest, and what I like to see as a judge.

Some people might say, “I just can’t sell things!” So “selling” might not be in your wheel house, but a knowledge of your animal in important no matter if you are in a sales talk contest or simply being an educated beef cattle producer. So you’ve got a registration paper in your hand, and an animal to sell…. what’s next.

Introduction: Some people take the approach as you have heard they are looking for something to buy, others take the approach of finding out what type of operation/needs the buyers have. Personally, I take the second. Every producer is different – some are looking for a show heifer, donor cow, replacement females to make bulls, or crossbreeding. You, as the seller should be familiar enough with your animal to turn your sales pitch into whatever your buyer is looking for.

After the introductions you can move into your animal. Personally, I move into the details of my animal. First, the animal herself, birth date, show record, disposition, status of open or bred. It is also a great time for the judges to take a walk around your female and check out her phenotype. Then move onto her pedigree. Here is where I believe we are lacking in our sales talk. The depth of the knowledge of the animal isn’t there especially in the pedigree. Now this part might require you to look up some stuff on the ASA website, do a little internet research, or talk to breeders. Yes, you should know WHO the sire and dam of your animal is, but TELL ME MORE! Below is an actual animal that I did a sales talk on back in the day. To many of the junior members, this will be an old school pedigree. 🙂 So obviously, as you look at this pedigree, we are going to know that the sire if GW Lucky Dice. (I always started with the top part of the pedigree, I’m not sure why). So instead of just telling me that the sire is Lucky Dice, you need to know more as the pedigree is extended. LCHMAN Lucky Buck especially. These two bulls would have played a large role in the breed, so those would be things I would have brought up. Champions sired. Usage of the bulls through AI. If they are rated in the most used bulls in the breed. Number of calves registered. Homozygous black, polled. 

Then move down to the maternal side of the pedigree…(see the usage of the word maternal). Now HC Honeysuckle Rose was the building block of my herd, so I had a lot to talk about. If the dam of your animal isn’t in your herd, try to do some research to learn more about her. If you purchased your animal through a sale, try contacting the seller to see what you could learn about the dam. On the dam side of pedigree, we want to talk about what the cow has done; what she has produced. If the dam is a first calf heifer, tell me how she did as a first calf heifer. As you can see this female was a embryo, so I want to talk about the flush record of Honeysuckle Rose. How has she flushed, who have you flushed her to, and what has any other offspring done. Then again, we extend the pedigree to talk about Right Time and 81B; both who had a big impact on the breed. Talking about their success, their usage, offspring, etc.

Now lets move on to the genetic side of my female. Of course, I pulled this pedigree off the ASA Herd database so my paper doesn’t look like a normal registration paper, but the information is still the same. First lets point out that if you are working off a registration paper that was not issued this Spring, your EPD’s are not correct. Go to the ASA Herdbook and check out how the EPD’s have changed. Though you can’t take the new ones in with you on a piece of paper, it would be very beneficial to know how they have changed whether up or down. Of course, the biggest thing about EPD’s is knowing what they stand for and how your animal compares to breed average. Point out the high notes in the EPD’s. Like with my heifer I would talk about her Yearling EPD as it is in the Top 25% of the breed. From pedigree knowledge, I know that this cow family has great growth EPD’s, which I would want to highlight. Currently, API is important to many breeders so know where your animal falls based on the breed average. EPD’s is also a great place to showcase how a breeding decision might alter the EPD’s. If you chose to breed your female to a bull with a great calving ease EPD for a first calf heifer – highlight it here. If your buyer is looking to produce bulls or feeder cattle, you will want to talk about the carcass trait EPDs.

Breeding Status of female: If your female is bred you will want to know who she is bred to and when she is due. Of course it is more than just knowing who she is bred to – you need to know WHY. If it because of a certain trait that you want to improve phenotypically or a trait that you want to work on genetically. It is also great to know what the resulting progeny will be – purebred, percentage. If the calf should be red or black – if the bull you bred her to is homozygous black or hetero.

Price: This subject differs depending on who you talk to. In my personal opinion, if you come in and tell me you what $10,000 for your female then you better be able to tell me why and how I am going to make my money back, and she better fly or do some kind of trick. Which would make all the above things we talked about make more important. I am a firm believer that you price reasonably and be able to make a good reasoning for your price and sale. When I showed Sazerac, who won numerous shows and later sold as donor for over $50,000 – I priced her in sales talk in Sedalia, Missouri for $2,500. Just remember its not about the price of the animal – its how well you sell it.

As they call time: Don’t let them call time and you walk away without closing your pitch. Whether that ends with them saying they will make the purchase or if they need more time to think about. Tell them you hope that you have given them the information they need to make an informed decision, you would love to visit with them more, and look forward to working together in the future.

And ta-da.. your seven minutes are up! But really, the more you know about your animal, pedigree, and how she can work for the breed the faster your time goes and the easier it is to make the sale. Don’t get worried about whether or not they actually “buy” your animal by the end of the sale. I hardly ever sold my during sales talk and I rarely buy during the talk as a judge.

I realize this is ALOT of information, and I’m not saying my way to go about sales talk is the only way. If you take away anything from this blog post know that that knowledge and depth of information are important aspects to a great sales talk!

Good Luck!



Other tidbits:

– Don’t be too rehearsed. If you write out your sales talk or prepare too much on what order you are going to say things it is easy to get thrown off if they ask you a question.

– Don’t be too pushy. People always want to buy something from someone they trust and can have a genuine conversation with.

– Smile and act like your are enjoying yourself. I’d much rather buy from a happy person.








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Let’s Talk: Public Speaking

Being a past AJSA junior member and an individual with a vested interest in the Simmental breed, I get asked a lot to judge contests at the regionals/junior nationals. I really enjoy it because not only do I get to go back to an event that heavily shaped who I am as a person, but I also enjoy helping AJSA members and young people in general become the best version of theirselves they can be. So with the junior nationals coming up next week (and boy is it going to be a BIG one), I thought I would take a look at two of my favorite contests out at the junior nationals.

The AJSA program gives a lot to a young person I believe. We help them not only market their Simmental genetics through the show ring, but we host educational contests that allow them to gain personal growth as well. One of my favorite contests is Public Speaking, and a lot of you might run away from that. Heck, even some adults would run away from having to speak in public. Glossophobia or the fear of public speaking is something a lot of Americans feel, and it is usually the first contest anyone would go running from. BUT from a personal growth standpoint, it is the contest that will give you the most you can use in the future because like it or not at some point you will have to speak in front of a group.

One of the areas I think we lack on is preparing our young people and especially first timers on what to do or what kind of format to go by. Due to the age range of participants and the number of first time participants at an event, a young person might go into a regional or junior national not knowing what goes on in these contests. Of course, the AJSA speech contest is extemporaneous speech in which junior members pick a topic, are given an information packet, and prepare a speech in 30 minutes. As you are working on your speech, think about the organization of your thoughts. In your introduction, you should capture the audience’s (or in this case judges) attention with a quote, story, or personal experience. Then follow your attention getter with a summary of what you will be speaking about and state your three main points. The most important thing I can say about the body of the speech is make sure you stay organized in your thoughts and support your body points with facts, personal experience, and data. DON’T forget the conclusion! Your conclusion should be the driving home of your speech. Restate the points from your body and connect to your introduction/attention getter. Many times you see someone just end their speech with “That’s all I have.” A conclusion goes a long way in wrapping up your thoughts in an organized manner.

Here are a few tips for successful speeches from the Toastmasters International that I thought were very helpful, things I like in a speech, and relate to the AJSA Public Speaking Contest.

  • Start strong. Begin your speech with a powerful opening that will grab your audience’s attention, such as a startling fact or statistic, an interesting story or a funny joke.
  • Be conversational. Avoid reading your speech word for word. Instead, refer to notes or points from an outline to help your speech have a more free-flowing, conversational tone.
  • Speak with passion. If you’re truly invested in what you’re saying, you’ll be better able to keep your audience’s attention.
  • Eye contact establishes an immediate bond with an audience, especially when a speaker focuses in on individual listeners rather than just gazing over the audience as a whole.
  • Control mannerisms. Mannerisms are the nervous expressions a speaker might not be aware of such as putting their hands in their pockets, nodding their head excessively, or using filler words like um and ah too often.
  • Move around the stage as topics change and move toward the audience when asking questions, making critical connections, or offering a revelation.


Make sure at the end of junior nationals you pick up your comment pages from the judges so that you can see what they have to say about your speech. You should hopefully find some good tips on things you can work on for next time. Though they might be judges, we also like to help the participant continue to develop and get better with every speech they give. The Public Speaking contest at AJSA events should be an exciting, rewarding, and educational event – not something that is dreaded. So pick a topic, stand up straight, and get over the dreaded glossophobia!





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