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February 11, 2022 Chewing the Cud

I don't think it is a stretch to say that there seems to be something negative said about today's youth when I talk with folks outside work. 'They don't understand the value of hard work.' 'They are always stuck to their phones.' 'They just don't want to work.' 'They just don't get it.' It gets somewhat discouraging to hear about our future with statements like that, but I'm here to set the record straight!

The last month has been a busy month for the children of the Sandhills, and more locally, Valentine students. The Cherry County 4-H Robotics team (Badger Bots) asked Maddie and me to come to discuss virtual fencing with them a couple of weeks ago. As I sat there and listened as they pitched ideas and technological concepts to us, I was taken aback by their knowledge of what ranchers NEED. Here sat 8 to 12-year-olds talking about virtual fencing to facilitate pasture rotation. They discussed training cows to adapt to virtual fencing, pinch points in virtual fence setups, and how to power the whole system. They discussed how they could eventually adjust their technology to send notifications on whether the cow is moving regularly and even get health alerts from tags like temperatures and breathing. My favorite idea pitched was a 'cull cow' notification for those cantankerous cows who seem to slip through the fences regularly. These discussions are far beyond what I would consider general conversations had by elementary-aged children.

The Badger Bots competed at the Regional Qualifier Competition for First Lego League Robotics in Henderson on February 5th. They were selected as the Core Value Champions for the second year! And they were chosen to represent the region at the state competition on February 26th for their virtual fencing and robotic gate ideas! We could not be prouder of this group of robotics students representing the largest cow county in the country!

I also got the opportunity to judge FFA CDE (Career Development Event) Ag Sales competition today in Valentine. FFA'ers were assigned a company to represent and were asked to pitch their products and services to the customer (judges). They were given the customer information just minutes before marketing how their service could benefit my business. I listened to twelve talented, young teenagers who could probably outsell many adults. They were well versed and prepared with answers to all the questions I threw at them. Their instructors should be proud.

The students have shown me they are eager to learn, adaptive, technologically superior, and enjoy the finer things in life like sharing the success of teamwork and celebrating their championship with their friends. I concluded over the last month that we have nothing to worry about - the future looks mighty bright!

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