Shawnee News-Star Executive Editor Mike McCormick and News-Star Photographer Ed Blochowiak have been selected as the 2014 Pottawatomie County Junior Livestock Show Honorees.
Both McCormick and Blochowiak said they are honored to be the Honorees for this year.
“This is a huge honor and a lot of great people have received this honor in the past,” McCormick said.
Blochowiak said he was confused at first but still very honored to be recognized.
“I thought they probably ran out of choices or I’m old and maybe they thought I could be circling the drain soon,” he joked.
Suzanne Gilbert, co-chairman for the Agri-Business Youth Development Committee, said everyone on the committee was in agreement that McCormick and Blochowiak should be the Honorees, without any question.
“Both are very, very deserving,” she said.
Gilbert said the requirement to be an Honoree is to have at least 20 years of service to the Junior Livestock Show. McCormick has 44 years and Blochowiak has 40 years of dedication to the show.
“We thought it was very fitting this year,” she said.
Gilbert said because both men work for the paper, they could just show up, take a few pictures, do a few interviews and then leave, but she said they both stay all week, visiting with the kids, taking pictures and doing anything else that needs to be done.
“They also write weeks in advance and even after the show to cover everything needed,” she said. “They don’t just take that as part of their jobs. They are both very engaged.”
Gilbert said usually the Honorees not only have years of experience in the Junior Livestock Show but also in agriculture in general. However, she said this year’s Honorees did not have an agricultural background and had to learn over the years.
“I think one of the big things that says volumes about them is neither of them came from an agriculture background,” she said. “But they were willing to learn.”
McCormick said the Junior Livestock Show has given him an appreciation for all those involved in agriculture.
“It’s helped me appreciate more what they do on a daily basis and better understand the challenges those in agriculture face,” he said. “I understand some of the practices which are required of those in the industry and how they struggle with those at times.”
Blochowiak said he tries to keep things simple when it comes to agriculture terminology and the livestock show.
“When I see them headed for the blue background that’s when I’m up to bat,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Blochowiak said he still doesn’t know the difference between a Duroc and all other breeds (AOB).
“I think AOBs are easier to photograph,” he said.
Gilbert said it’s hard for someone to be passionate about something they know nothing about but said both McCormick and Blochowiak have been passionate for the livestock show from the beginning and their passion has grown over the years.
“They’re huge supporters,” she said, adding they not only support the show but also support each kid throughout the years.
McCormick said his passion has grown for the Junior Livestock Show throughout the years.
“I knew nothing about this show when I began my career at this newspaper 46 years ago,” he said. “But to see how hard these kids work, how they struggle at times, the challenges they face, both those in 4-H and FFA, how polite and respectful they are is just amazing.”
McCormick said he likes to look back and see what some of the livestock show participants have done with their lives and the people they’ve become.
“It’s gratifying to know I had the opportunity to write about many of their successes,” he said.
McCormick said he has friendships today with many he met while covering the livestock show years ago.
“And just to know the long hours and hard work which is required of them has helped me become more passionate about this show,” he said.
Blochowiak said he enjoys getting to spend several days with some really, really nice and well-mannered kids.
“It’s fun to see them start very young and work up through the ranks until they graduate,” he said. “It’s nice to see the true dedication to their animals.”
Blochowiak said he sometimes gets to harass the folks who put on the livestock show.
“That is very important,” he said.
The Pottawatomie County Junior Livestock Show will be held March 4-7 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center.