My name is Sara Sullivan and I am a 16-year-old from Dunlap IA. I started showing cattle at 6 years old, my first show heifer was a roan Shorthorn named Strawberry, that I loved going to the barn to wash, brush and practice showmanship on. The first and only show strawberry and I attended was the bucket calf show at our county fair which we won. I realized then that this could be something I liked, not because of the win but because of the sense of comradery between all the families at the show, people I had never met wishing me good luck which for a 6-year-old is a cool feeling. That initial feeling became more prominent as I became more involved and my knowledge of the industry grew. Now I can’t picture my life without the lessons, memories and friends that this industry has allowed me to have.
One of my best memories happened a few years ago. My friend, Madison and I were letting out heifers one night, it began down pouring and the wind kicked up like crazy. We started kicking out as we usually would besides becoming soaked from the storm. But in the midst of all the chaos, we realized that we had mixed up the pen numbers and each heifer was one pen ahead of where they should be. We spent an extra half hour in the pouring rain fixing our mistake while goofing off and cracking jokes. What seemed like a small disaster at the time quickly became a funny memory Madison and I now share.
Other than working on my calves and being at school, I love hanging out with my friends, reading, traveling and snow skiing with my family. Another thing I’m very passionate about is volunteer work. I’ve spent a good amount of time volunteering at an elementary school library, welcoming home veterans from their Honor Flight, and various duties at my church, my favorite being decorating for the holidays. And, most recently, I traveled to Peru for a service project.
My trip to Peru now feels like a dream. I spent ten days with eighteen other girls helping the local community it Cuzco, Peru. One of the things we did was visit elementary aged children at their school. We made them lunch, gave them a ton of toys and played with them for hours. In addition to our school visit, we also built a greenhouse for a local family that allowed them to be self-sustainable and to create an income for them to send their two children to school. It took us long days and many hours of working together to mix mud, make the 30 lb. bricks and stack them to make walls. The highlight was seeing the family so happy. It was very emotional for us all and an extreme eye-opening experience for me. It made me realize the importance of helping others and how fortunate we are.
As for my future goals, I still have some time to think about that. I have contemplated going into our family business, Sullivan Supply. I want to keep my options open and I know this industry can take me far when it comes to my future.
Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me throughout the years. Everyone at Sullivan Farms have all supported me and taught me so much, especially Nate Tice. He has been a great influence ever since I first stepped into our show barn. And I really look up to my cousin, James Sullivan. He has been a great mentor since I was very small. Most of all I would like to thank my mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to be involved in showing cattle and for everything they have done for me. Every day I am thankful for what the livestock industry has taught me about work ethic, perseverance and dedication. I am grateful for these life skills.