by IBBA Assistant to the Executive Vice President Yvonne “Bonnie” Ramirez

SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS – When you go to a major livestock show, a county show, prospect show, benefit event, etc., have you ever wondered who makes it run? How does it happen? Who organizes the event? Who executes it? And how? How much time goes into it? Whose blood, sweat and tears – figuratively speaking – goes into making this event go off without a hitch? Many times, there is a paid team that manages the event, but behind every successful event is the heart and backbone – the amazing behind-the-scene crew – and they are called volunteers.

A volunteer, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, is a person who does something, especially for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.

I used to work for the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and let me tell you about our volunteers. They were simply like no other! No one could quite compare. While I was working there, we had over 5,000 volunteers intermixed within over 30 committees that helped us put on one of the best stock shows and rodeos in the nation! I was simply amazed at the tireless work, dedication, commitment, money and time our volunteers put in. It was extremely humbling to work side by side with these selfless, remarkable individuals who gave so much of themselves. They were driven by passion, loyalty, and, ultimately, by wanting to make a difference. No matter the hours that I put in, it didn’t compare to the unpaid work they invested. It amazed me that many of these volunteers took their personal vacation time off from their professional career to devote endless hours and put in, most likely, harder labor at the stock show and rodeo, than at their personal profession. Our volunteers ranged from doctors and lawyers to teachers and retirees to ex-military to law enforcement to bankers and entrepreneurs to college students and administrative assistants to everything in between. There were mornings we – the staff – were up and running by 6 a.m. and did not leave the grounds until 3 a.m. Guess what. Almost always, our volunteers were right there with us. How crazy awesome is that phenomenon? They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it because they believed in the mission behind the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, they genuinely wanted to make a difference! And you know what; they did! Through the heat, cold, rain, wind, late nights, early mornings, mud, dirt, cow and pig and horse poop, our volunteers didn’t blink an eye in putting in the work. It’s truly incredible what being driven by passion will cause a person do. Unfortunately, many times our volunteers received the shorter end of the deal as they were the first in line to hear complaints, get yelled at, be disrespected, etc. Please be courteous and respectful to volunteers. Remember, they are not getting paid. They are volunteering their time to better the lives of those around them, to help you, to help put on the event you are participating in. Volunteers, without a doubt, are the backbone and heart and soul of an organization.

I, along with the help of my family, also put on an annual benefit Alzheimer’s Team Roping fundraiser in memory of my grandma. We have people who volunteer their time to help us in one way or another and it is so touching and humbling. Words cannot begin to describe how thankful we are to the volunteers who help us behind the scenes.

Currently I work for a cattle breed association, the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA), and we, too, have several committees comprised of individuals for a passion for the breed. They dedicate their time to serving on committees, planning events, securing sponsorships, participating in meetings and conference calls, and more. They play an integral part of our association. We couldn’t do what we do without their time and help. During my time with the IBBA, I have witnessed several chairmen call the office and email staff about setting up meetings and helping with different committee endeavors. The 2018 World Brangus Congress, for example, is a huge undertaking, but under the leadership of the International Committee Chairman Buck Thomason – a success it shall be! Buck, along with many IBBA members, are working hard to plan this mammoth of a Brangus event. They have diligently been working on it for months. And as the months fly by, more hours will be devoted to ensuring that this is an event that everyone will remember. IBBA’s annual Fall Meeting that was held over the summer in Florida is another example of the work that committee members put in to make IBBA events a success.  The show committee, too, puts in countless hours in making sure rules, awards, points, open shows, etc. go off without a hitch. These are only a handful of testaments of the hard work that IBBA volunteers dedicate to the association and/or foundation – and all because they have the passion for the breed, they believe in Brangus!

So, whenever you are at your next IBBA event, stock show, rodeo, benefit event, or prospect show, win or lose, make sure to thank a volunteer! Whether you are sick, grumpy, tired, frustrated, or just having a bad day, don’t take it out on the volunteers. Remember they are there willingly, unpaid and to help you. The event you are participating in happens because of their loyalty and dedication. Volunteers are priceless and few and far between. Thank a volunteer today!

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”