It read, "Please do not put your hands inside my pen, I am NOT friendly." Taped to the outside of a pen, this sign warned visitors about Chance, the 1287 pound crossbred steer that received the honor of being named the Grand Champion Market Beef at the Kansas State Fair. Chance wasn’t a bad tempered steer by any means, just a little ornery as he showed us that he liked to scratch his forehead on the bars of the panels. But since many visitors to the Kansas State Fair may not understand his antics, we decided to post this appropriate warning to ensure no one would be injured by unknowingly putting their hands in a position to be pinched.
While I was helping take care of Chance, I entered his pen numerous times to bring him water or brush off all the wood chips off of him. At no point did he ever show aggression or put me in a situation where I didn’t feel safe. However, some visitors took the posted caution to an extreme, and wouldn’t even allow their children to come within several feet of his pen.
Just because of his appearance of being unfriendly, individuals did not feel comfortable in approaching him to marvel at his attributes.
I believe that this situation happens in numerous places, many of which take place not at the fair, but in our schools and communities. Just like Chance, we all have attributes that make us great, but we have a small problem. Others will never approach us for help or to learn our skills if we have a large yellow paper taped to us that exclaims “Not Friendly.” We must be more open and willing to welcome in others that may not feel at home so that they can benefit from what we have learned. We need to commit to an approachable attitude and show that we are friendly by working with our fellow members, whether it is practicing for a CDE as a team, sharing some successful tips about your SAE with another member, or helping freshmen out with the transition to high school.
It is amazing how much of a difference and an impact you can make on others by just opening up and being willing to help them. As we get into the swing of things this year, let’s take down that warning sign on our backs, and replace it with one of advertisement for our enthusiasm to help others.