Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trip to Big Sky Country...

Well here I sit on my couch back in St. Joseph, Missouri and I am needing to pack up as tomorrow is my last day to work at the Angus Association. Right after work I will be heading straight to Sedalia for the Missouri State Fair, then back home to Texas with a detour to Stillwater on the way!

I just returned to Missouri this morning from the state of Montana, aka Big Sky Country. I went there for the Junior Angus Leadership Conference, aka LEAD Conference (Leaders Engaging in Angus Development). And just let me say, it was quite the experience and I hope I remember to include all the cool things we did and awesome people I met!

We left on Wednesday. James, Robin, and I (my bosses), flew to Minneapolis to meet board members Dana May and Andrew Foster, before we would catch our connecting flight straight into Billings (which is the largest, most populated city in Montana, I believe it is #68 in the nation). We soon met the rest of the Junior Board (this trip there would be 18 considering the retiring 6 were still in attendance along with the newly elected 6!) So our crew consisted of James Fisher (MO), Shelia Stannard (MO), Robin Ruff(MO), myself (TX), Justin Brosey (OH), Andrew Foster (MI), Kara Wilson (IN), Rebecca Tokach (ND), Joe Epperly (VA), Dana May (WI), Mallory Trosper (MO), Brandon Creamer (CO), Walt Stinson (TN), Trey Davis (GA), Bridget Driscoll (IA), Ann Blumer (SC), Andrew Rogen (SD), Chris Cassady (IL), Kirbe Schnoor (CA), Robert Myers (OR), Lindsay Waugh (MN), Ashlyn Carter (IN) and then Brooke Bergkamp (KS) (who had flown in early with Kirbe). Wednesday was a pretty laid back day. Just lunch with the crew, an overview meeting, last minute preparations, and of course socializing again after dinner that night! (Or as the JR Board calls it...Church!)

On Thursday, the JR Board traveled 2 hours away to Canyon Creek Angus, the ranch who had bought the high selling foundation female a couple years ago for $250,000. They viewed cattle, ate dinner, and just spent time in appreciation for the day. Meanwhile, I had Brooke to hang out with and we were in charge of running errands, getting water shoes for everyone (for the white water rafting), and clothes and props for the skit!

Friday was the start of the Conference, and we had 218 total participants. So all day we had children and parents coming in from the airport and getting settled in the hotel. I must say I was very excited to see my Texas sister, Jennifer Ann Smith! So the most exciting part of Friday was the guest speaker, Mr. Alvin Law of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Mr. Law makes a living by serving as a motivational speaker. He was born with no arms, however he is completely independent. He drove down from Canada (10 hours away), all by himself and gave quite an inspirational message along with an overview of his life story and how he operated on a daily basis. I would highly recommend you to look over his story on his website www.alvinlaw.com. I took over 2 pages of notes while he spoke!

Saturday came, and this was our big day to go white water rafting! Of course, with this large of a crew, we had to split into groups of like 8-9 to all be able to fit on a raft. I am proud to say that I believe my crew was the funnest of them all. We consisted of myself, Jennifer Ann Smith, Chris Cassady, Trey Davis, Kirbe Schnoor, Brooke Bergkamp, Courtney DeHoff, Claire Taylor, and Mallory Trosper. We rafted 14 miles total! Even though the waves and tides were not that rough, we still hit a rough spot here and there which of course added to the excitement. However, the thriller moment of it all was when we passed a huge cliff. I begged our tour guide/head rafter to let some of us jump, but he said it was an extra charge. I soon used my persuasion skills and said, come on we have 220 people, can't you cut us some kind of a deal? So there we were (well all but 2 of us), on top of the cliff and ready to jump. It was quite the experience, and I somehow had my huge silver earrings on when I jumped, but luckily came up with them still on. So now, when my mother says, "Randa, if all of your friends were to jump off of a cliff, would you?", I can proudly say, "Yes, yes I would!" So after Vespers that night at a small church on the hill in the mountains of Montana, we were all extremely tired and wore out.

Sunday was full of tours. However, the coolest part of Sunday was meeting Miss Kim Anderson. She was to serve as the guest speaker Monday morning and then was to work with the new JR Board that next afternoon on leadership/team building/ future goals, etc. Robin had told me how Kim was an amazing lady that I should get to know, and as soon as I met her, I knew Robin was right! I wanted to get Kim to come down to do some officer training for my Saddle & Sirloin officers at Texas A&M (since I am serving as the President this year), but due to conflicts of dates and late notice, I am just going to have to look for another opportunity for Kim to come down to Texas. Anyway, she also has a blog at www.iowafarmgirl.blogspot.com, so be sure to check her out as well.

So between the tours to the Midland Bull Test (where I got to visit with Miss Lacey Robinson who works for the Simmental Association who was quite the female collegiate judger during her day), a tour of the Little Bighorn Battlefield (where dad told me I had been before when I was younger); Which for a side track note, in the Suburban was Kim, Robin, Shelia and myself and when we drove up, I was the only one who knew the history behind this sacred land which I was very proud of as history is not my strongest point. But, between my Aunt Michelle being an Indian Native and my dad being the History Channel Gurue that he is, I should have known the history of it. Too bad I was also thinking Mount Rushmore was also in Montana, and when I made this verbally known, everyone laughed and said it was in South Dakota. I soon chimed in with the response that I was from Texas and most typical Texans do not believe there is any other place, so geography can be quite tough at times!, then to the Vermilion Angus Ranch and finally back to the hotel for a dance (which had to have been another one of the funnest times of the dance), once again everyone was tired and needed sleep before the last day of the conference.

So Monday, Kim did her thing (very impressive!), I played mom and made sure everyone got on the shuttle at their assigned time to make their flight, then dealt with some delayed and cancelled flights, we eventually went to a CAB steakhouse "The Windmill", and back to the suite of the advisors to spend our last night together of the summer. For the retiring 6 and myself, this was our last night to spend with or as the junior board (tear..).

So after a 6am flight, here I still sit with nothing packed to get ready to eventually head back home.

Now as the SJ....I have been telling everyone I will resume all custom orders on next Monday as I will be back in Texas. Wow, will I have a busy week ahead. Between all of the old orders, new things to put together, along with record keeping and website updates, I will be running 90 to nothing (as always), however, be looking for new updates both on the SJ website and facebook as well. Also, Miss Reba Hicks (from Albama), had the SJ collection last weekend at a show in Montgomery, AL, so look for coverage of that. Until then, stay classy and fabulous!

Randa :)