The First Step

Written By: Riley Smith, NALJA Director

Hey everyone! My name is Riley Smith, and I am from Macomb, Illinois. I hope you all have had a wonderful first semester of school, have stayed plenty busy as I, and have handled all the crazy tasks life throws our way with courage. I cannot wait to see what the next fiscal year brings for all of us as Limousin producers and agriculturalists as a whole. 

Riley showing at the 2019 NJLSC

            Life can be stressful. We all know that we have deadlines to meet, people to please, and still have enough time set aside to have a normal life. A few months ago, I experienced a stressful time in my life, as I changed my decision of where I would be attending college. Keep in mind this was in the middle of July, just after Junior Nationals. Due to faint of heart, I originally planned on attending Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, even though I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to travel south-west to get away from home for college. After many long talks with my parents (and Dr. Mary Booth), I decided to change my then future school to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) in Miami, Oklahoma. That’s right, the home of the Norsemen (no I did not know what a Norseman was at first, either)! Although I was excited to be going to school where my heart desired, I was quite nervous as well. I only knew a select few people who were enrolled at NEO in the fall, I wasn’t sure who my roommate would be, and I was going to be living seven hours from home instead of a mere two. All of this coupled with having only two short weeks to prepare for move-in day made me more nervous than I’ve ever been. I felt as though I might regret my change in decision, or that something would fall through and end poorly.

Riley participating in the team fitting contest

Fast forward a couple weeks, and I was in Miami, Oklahoma walking to my first ever college-level class. The short time I have been here has no-doubt allowed me to make many lifelong friends and gain new experiences that I will cherish and utilize in my future. After so much worry, I can say without hesitation that I am happy with the choice I made. I love it here in red-dirt country.

            While pursuing any of your goals or passions, I challenge you to always remember that the most important step in the process, is the first step. A person can accomplish all things if they are willing to initiate something and follow through with dedication and perseverance. When feeling hesitant about pursuing something that your heart desires, I wish you courage, and hope you think of this quote by Martin Luther King Jr., “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” 

During your schooling this year, while playing a sport, or working with your livestock, I encourage you to never be afraid to pursue what your heart tells you to follow. Always remember to remain strong in faith, work harder than your competition, and stay humble and kind. 

            “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.” – Isaiah 40:31

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