“A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.”
— Greek Prover

This week has been jam packed celebrating volunteers. On Tuesday, I attended the Arizona National Livestock Show Annual Membership meeting where I, on behalf of ANLS Leadership, was able to recognize several key volunteers that make the stock show a success. Mr. Lyle Wright is our show dedicatee and to begin to think about the contributions he has made to ANLS is overwhelming. Louis Maxey was also recognized as a Volunteer of the Year on a statewide basis for the work he does for our exhibitor breakfast. We also acknowledged the contributions of many others who have dedicated countless hours, talent and resources to the organization. Another standout is Wyatt Scott. I only met Wyatt this past year, but he is one of the most pleasant and capable people I know. We were sure lucky to have him step up and fill the Swine Superintendent role. While this was a big enough job, he also volunteered for just about every other event going on during the stock show. I would argue that it would be hard to find more successful people in the stock show world than those three I named.

The Santa Fe Ranch hosted a dinner at Las Lagunas (a wetland project of the Foundation) where we celebrated two of our long time volunteers. The picture I shared has one of these volunteers, Mr. Manfred Cripe along with myself and my Dad. Manfred has donated between 300-500 hours per year over the past eight years and hundreds more establishing a hummingbird and butterfly garden at the Ranch. He also comes out during every school visit to share his passion with ranch visitors. The economic impact of this service, based on the Independent Sector rate of $22.55 per hour, is between $7,000 and $11,000 annually. The non-tangible contributions Manfred makes are a lot harder to calculate. If the garden were left to my leadership, I would probably plant alfalfa or oats in there, turn out a couple of calves and hope some birds showed up. I can tell a flamingo from a buzzard, but that’s about the extent of my ornithological expertise. Luckily for ranch visitors, Manfred has the knowledge and passion to look beyond pasture forages in his plant selection.

Nationally, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, one in four Americans volunteer. I never thought about it, but for some, it may be a pathway to employment. Statistics show that volunteers have a 27% higher odds of finding a job. That percentage rises to 51% for volunteers without a high school diploma and 55% for volunteers living in a rural area. The organizations that I’m involved in depend greatly on volunteers. Most of those volunteers are what I would call highly successful. Most of them are busy people, own their own businesses, and are “pretty big deals” in their field. They also live by the Chinese proverb “Those that say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

My father instilled a deep sense of volunteerism in me by example. He has served in a leadership capacity on all sorts of boards and organizations from breed association to school boards and planning and zoning commissions. I have tried to pass that on to my children by serving my community. You would be hard pressed to find a prouder Dad seeing my daughter volunteering as a U of A CALS Ambassador. All of those young people are superstars and already successful. Wait until you meet them! My son has had some success in the show ring, but the proudest dad moment I have had as a stock show parent was other parents thanking me for him taking time to help younger exhibitors with their projects. Winston Churchill said “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” Think about some place that could use your talents and share them! Please forgive me for getting off track due to my short attention span and not making a good correlation between volunteerism and success, but I think you get my point. Hey wait, there goes a queen butterfly…