Riley Smith: Junior Herdsman of the Year

Riley Smith is the son of Bret and Erin Smith of Macomb, Ill. Currently, Riley is pursuing an animal science degree at Oklahoma State University and participating on the livestock judging team there. Riley began showing Limousin heifers at the age of 10 when his family ‘decided to try something new.’ He attended his first National Junior Limousin Show and Congress in 2012 when it was held in Des Moines, Iowa.

Riley’s first heifer, Maxi, was purchased in 2009 and she had no actual birthdate or even a pedigree. Riley was thankfully too young to know the difference and he had more fun taking her to two county fairs that summer than he had ever experienced doing anything else! At that moment, the Smith’s realized that they would be showing Limousin cattle for many years to come, as Riley wanted to get more serious in the cattle industry.

Since neither of Riley’s parents had much experience exhibiting cattle, finding a certain breed to show was not a natural choice. Our family friend’s, the Lowderman’s, had national success within the Hereford breed, and honestly, we didn’t want to compete with them. The same could have been said about our good neighbor’s, the Creasey’s, who showed Charolais. Through a friend of a friend, we were linked to Bob Etherton’s manager, Rob Bruce. Long story short, they bought EF Xenia 457X in February of 2011 and the rest is history. Since then, Riley has had several Purebred, and Lim-Flex heifers in the family barn over the years, but an unforgettable experience happened with a home raised female this year. Riley was blessed enough to show the champion bred and owned Purebred female at the 2022 National Junior Limousin Show & Congress in Amarillo, TX.

“We have had ups and downs, and placed everywhere from last to first, but there’s one thing that has held steadfast throughout our short time within the Limousin breed, and that’s the people. When Riley would talk with friends who showed other breeds of cattle, I always noticed his answer to why he chose to continue to show Limousin cattle was unique. It wasn’t because of the cattle being consistently heavy muscled and growthy, or because they could be red or black, it was because of the people in the breed,” stated Erin Smith.

Riley’s love for this great breed derived from the relationships he made with the people in the breed, even more so than just the strengths of Limousin cattle. The late Ken Holloway, Bruce Lawrence, Randy Corns, and George Hubbard are just a few of the great cattlemen that come to mind when Riley thinks of people he tries to model himself after. No matter how busy they may be, men like those four always ensure the future is in good hands by giving their time to the youth.

Influences like those four prominent breeders paved the way for Riley to run for a position on the NALJA junior board, and after three years of service, it makes perfect sense to him that he did. He loves spending time with the juniors more than anything, and learning from the older and wiser crowd, too. He wants to give today’s youth the same great experiences he had when he started showing. “Serving on the NALJA Board of Directors has given me a sense of fulfillment and has allowed me to find purpose in my life,” states Riley. He hopes to continue to be a light and role model for the juniors for many years to come.

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