Written by Amy Harch, 2016 Edgar Hudgins Scholarship Recipient
Insightful, educational and inspiring are words that come to mind when I reflect on my recent three-month adventure across America. Growing up on a Brahman Stud in South East Queensland I have always wanted to travel to America to see and learn about where the genetics we use originated. Being the recipient of the 2016 Edgar Hudgins Memorial Scholarship made this dream come true. I spent three months at the beginning of the year travelling across Texas, Florida and Louisiana learning from some of the most experienced and interesting cattle men and women in the world. I visited Brahman ranches, commercial cattle operations, collection facilities and livestock shows. The trip provided me with a fresh perspective and several ideas I would like to implement back here in Australia.
It was my privilege to call the world-renown JD Hudgins Ranch of Hungerford, Texas home for the duration of my stay. The family run Brahman operation is organised into several divisions who independently manage their herds however they collaborate when it comes to marketing. It was clear to see why the ranch is so successful on a global scale by the quality of Brahman cattle produced there. I was impressed with the power, breed character and consistency of the cattle at Hudgins. I learnt so many things throughout my time here I am excited to implement at our Stud here in Australia.
Throughout my visit many kind ranching families took me into their homes and showed me their ways of life. Each stay was special and came with a new American experience. Some of the highlights were the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, 44 Farms, mustering through palm trees in Florida, holding a very small gator, shooting a gun for the first time and walking across the Rio Grande River into Mexico for a day. The “Southern Hospitality” I experienced throughout my stay is something I will miss dearly. I became accustomed to being called ma'am and people wanting to carry my suitcase despite the fact it was 20lb overweight.
Something that really stood out to me throughout my time in America was the involvement of youth at Livestock Shows as well as the broader rural industry. The 4H and Young Farmers of America Organisations give school aged children opportunities to show a variety of animals in youth shows and judging competitions, participate in public speaking competitions and enter projects they have created at local Livestock Shows.
An organisation supporting this involvement is the Brahman Foundation, which I learnt about during my time at Hudgins. I was honoured to be able to sit in on one of their meetings to learn about what they do. The Foundation was created by members of the American Brahman Breeders Association to support the involvement of youth in the industry through education and scholarships. In the two years since its formation the foundation has raised over $200,000. Talking with members and witnessing their impact truly inspired me to think about how we could possibly create something like this here in Australia.
It’s safe to say that I saw more cattle in these three months than I ever have in my entire life and it’s a place I look forward to visiting again very much. I will treasure the knowledge and friends I gained.