Education has been at the heart of the National Western’s mission since the first Stock Show in 1906. The new National Western Center will both fortify our educational efforts and extend them throughout the year.
The educational opportunities at the National Western come in many forms. For farmers and ranchers, the Stock Show has always been a place to learn about the latest in feeding, raising and breeding techniques and technologies, land management approaches and other areas critical to maintaining and improving the quality of livestock.
But that’s only part of the story. In particular, young people from both rural and urban communities have been a major experiential-learning focus. Rural youth preparing their animals for show learn about what it means to work hard in preparing, grooming and fitting animals for the show ring. They learn how to work as a team and how to communicate. They learn organizational skills as they track and monitor the sustenance and health of their animals. They come to understand the National Western ethos – indeed, the Western ethos – of doing business and conducting themselves in ethical, honorable, honest ways.
For urban youth, the National Western provides a rare window into where their food actually comes from and into the immense scale and vital importance of ranching and agriculture to their own lives. Perhaps most importantly, the National Western teaches kids how to relate to, connect with and respect animals – a source of inspiration for young and old, rural and urban.