Kendall Niemietz is a Pleasanton FFA senior that took her last trip across the Atascosa County Livestock Show auction stage just a few short weeks ago. Niemietz began her 10-year showing career in third grade, and she has loved and cherished every moment.
She explained, “My brother was a huge influence in all of it. He just made a major impact in my life. He loved it, which made me love it.”
Following in her brother’s footsteps, Niemietz started off her first year in FFA showing rabbits and three pigs; however, this did not last long. Niemietz finished her last few years showing 10 to 12 pigs and two steers each year.
Though her passion for the animals and the industry have shaped her life and decisions, Niemietz explained that there are many other skills that she has gained by showing that will last a lifetime including responsibility, hard work and time management.
“It has taught me a lot about responsibility for sure. It takes a lot of hard work, time and effort to put into these animals to get them just right. Most of the time, I am in the barn from probably 2:00 to 7:00 every day,” said Niemietz.
She made a point to highlight the people that have walked beside her through this journey.
“I would say one of my biggest supporters is definitely my mom, Bobbi Jasik, and my stepdad, Dennis Jasik.” She explained that they cheered her inside and outside the ring and kept her going when she lacked motivation to give her 100%.
It was not only real family that walked with her in this journey, but also her show family. “The show family that I have created over the years is definitely The Barker family and my pig breeder Ty Baird,” said Niemietz.
She pointed out that Baird has been her No. 1 for a long time. “He has definitely motivated me to be the showman I am today, and he has actually made me the showman I am today. There is no way that I could have gone through my show career without him. He pushed me to be harder on myself. There are times when I come out of the show ring knowing that I showed terribly, and he’s over there telling me that I showed terribly, but saying that we can work on it.”
As Niemietz took her last trip across the ACLS auction stage, she was overwhelmed with emotions as buyers continued to bid on her animal.
Niemietz reflected on this moment, “You get up there and see the people who you have been with for the past 10 years. The people that have watched you grow and form into the person you are today. It is really, really amazing.”
In addition to her accomplishments in the show ring, Niemietz was also a major contributor to the Barn Buddies event. Barn Buddies is a program that ACLS hosts to introduce special needs students to the vast and exciting world of livestock shows.
This experience is designed to be educational and fun. There are ambassadors from each school district that walk and work an animal for students. The participants get to watch, learn, ask questions and engage with the animals.
Niemietz started off Barn Buddies next to a dear friend, Kaycie Shannon. When Shannon was a senior the two started Barn Buddies with Shannon sitting as chairman and Niemietz as co-chairman. Once Shannon graduated, Niemietz took over.
She said, the first year that they had this event, there were 60 students that participated; but, last year, they went from 60 to 120 participants. Niemietz said, “It brought tears of happiness knowing that you are doing something for the community. That’s the best part about it.”
She has already found a replacement chairman for the event now that Niemietz will be leaving, Kinsley Barker from Pleasanton High School.
Niemietz’ show career is not quite over yet. She plans to attend five major livestock shows across the state. She has already showed at The Patriot Show in Abilene, Texas, and she plans on attending San Antonio, Kerrville, Austin and Houston livestock shows.
College is also right around the corner, and Niemietz has plans to stay in the agriculture industry. She will be attending Texas State University majoring in Animal Science.
“I know that the Ag industry has made a high impact in my life, and I want to do that for other people. So, I want to try to stay in the livestock industry somehow,” said Niemietz.