We all know those smells that bring back memories from when we were a kid. Whether it is walking into your grandma’s house and smelling fresh-baked cookies or the smell of freshly turned ground in the spring — we all have those “special” triggers that bring back so many great memories.

One of the most distinct smells for many farm kids is the show barn. Yes, the show barn! You may think, “Well that only smells like manure.” But boy, you could not be more wrong.

Growing up and walking out to the barn, sure you had the smell of manure. But more than that, you had the smell of fresh wood shavings, Show Sheen and, of course, the sweet smell of feed, all mixed together.

When you take in that smell, so many memories fill your mind.

Being in a show barn with family and livestock helps develop so many lifelong skills that many do not even realize. We’ve made friends that we still talk to 30 years later.

We all know farm kids work super hard. Well, when you have a barn full of stock, you know what it is like to be up before the sun and still out working well after the sun goes down. Those devoted animals live for you to walk in the barn to feed, walk and groom them daily.

We all know the extra hours that go into showing livestock. The same can be said for our commercial operations. You may not show livestock, but man, caring for livestock instills some of the greatest characteristics in our children.

Now many 4-H and FFA kids are in full show-season mode.

Last year was a major let down for many as they did not get to participate in the summer shows. However, despite that, many still put in countless hours and cared for those special animals in hopes they would still get to hit the show ring at some point.

That exemplifies the dedication and accountability we have instilled in our children; to still be optimistic enough to work hard even though there is a good chance that trailer will not get loaded and head off to a county, state or national show.

In the agriculture industry, we work countless hours with family. Showing livestock is no different. They always joke and say, “Do not take to heart what I said while we were working cattle.” Some days that could not be more true.

We all love our family; we all want to work hard and be successful; and sometimes, that makes tempers roar. But at the end of the day, we still walk out of that show barn with smiles on our faces and realize just how fortunate we were.

Fortunate to have parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to help us dream big and achieve our goal of winning that shiny trophy, prized buckle, and special banner. But most important are the people we meet, and the relationships we build over the years.

Katie King represents District 10 on the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders Committee.