by Enrico Villamaino
A farmer’s work is never done. She wears many hats, and can be called upon to act as breeder, mechanic, meteorologist, veterinarian or any combination thereof, and almost always at a moment’s notice.
Within that gaggle of grindstones, Jenna Hamilton exemplifies showman and photographer. She recently took home an armful of awards from the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS.)
The event took place in Tulsa, OK, July 20 – 26 and was sponsored by the National Junior Angus Association (NJAA). The NJAA promotes youth involvement in the Angus breed and has over 6,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
Jenna, 19, is from Buena Vista, VA. Despite her young age, she has been involved with cattle for nearly 15 years.
“I’ve been showing almost as long as I’ve been able to walk!” she laughed. Jenna first got her start in the Cloverbuds, the 4-H-sponsored program geared toward helping young people learn about healthy lifestyles, environmental and earth science, citizenship and civic education, plants and animals, consumerism and family science, science and technology, personal development and community and expressive arts. Jenna began showing cattle through the Cloverbuds at the Rockbridge County Fair in Glasgow, VA, when she was just five years old.
After turning 9, Jenna began competing in 4-H events and got involved with NJAA events.
At the NJAS, each state enters two contestants in the Yearling Heifer division. Jenna represented the Commonwealth of Virginia. She said, like so many of the events staged by the NJAA, “It was very well run. There were a lot of quality contestants.” While she did not win the competition, Jenna is pleased with her performance and happy to have participated.
The NJAA and its publication Angus Journal collaborated to create a photography contest for the NJAS. A panel of judges selected by Angus Journal critiqued submitted photographs using the following criteria: 60% of their decision was based on creativity, communication power and composition of the photo; 40% was dedicated to the technical quality of photo, such as proper light exposure, true color, sharp focus and correct cropping. Three age divisions were considered: Junior (ages 8 – 13), Intermediate (14 – 17) and Senior (18 – 21).
There are four subject categories in the contest. “Angus Cattle” photographs highlight cattle on the farm or at an Angus event, with the cow itself being the dominant focus of the picture. “Angus Landscape” photographs focus on scenery around a farm or ranch. Angus cattle should be included in the photos. “Angus People” photographs show an Angus junior, family and friends either involved in activities on a farm or at an Angus event. “Around the Farm or Ranch” photographs highlight activities and scenes around a farm. In this category, an Angus cattle connection is not necessary.
Jenna entered a photo in each category.
“I won first place in the Angus Cattle senior competition, first place in the Around the Farm and Ranch senior category and second place in the photo contest overall,” she said.
The NJAA, through its Angus Foundation, also awarded a number of academic scholarships to NJAS participants. Jenna is currently in her second year at Virginia Western Community College. She is concentrating her studies on animal sciences and agribusiness. Jenna was one of the recipients of the Angus Foundation’s undergraduate scholarships.
While preparing for future competitions, Jenna spends time at her grandparents’ farm. Ridgeview Farm in Buchanan, VA, is where Jenna’s family takes their old show heifers. “We have somewhere between 75 to 100 head of cattle there now,” she explained.
Looking ahead, Jenna has a few upcoming events that she’s focusing on. The Rockbridge County Fair, where Jenna first got her start showing cattle, is giving her a chance to give back to the community that’s been so good to her. “I’m loaning animals to two less fortunate boys so they have the opportunity to show,” she said.
Jenna is also getting ready to participate herself in the Virginia Breeders’ Show. “I have a little heifer calf to show there,” she said. “It should be fun.”