Bridget Halat has almost aged-out of the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) but this Genoa, Illinois native is still involved in pig farming. Bridget shares her experience with #RealPigFarming.
Real Pig Farming: Tell me about yourself — what’s your background with pig farming?
Bridget Halat: I grew up in Northern Illinois, where my family grows corn and soybeans. My love for showing pigs started at the young age of five and I have been in a showring ever since alongside my siblings Jill and Mitchell. My dad grew up showing pigs, while my mom grew up showing cattle. Showing pigs is how I remember spending all of my summers and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Currently, I am a senior at Iowa State University where I am majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in both Advertising and International Agriculture.
RPF: What do you like about showing pigs?
BH: I love the process. I love looking at pigs in the spring alongside my family and picking out my project for the summer. I love going out in the barn every day throughout the summer alongside my family and working with the pigs. I love spending my weekends at jackpot shows or weeks at National Shows and State Fair, where I get to exhibit and show all of the work I have done on my animals. Most of all, I love spending my time at the shows alongside my family and the great friends I have made throughout the years, making memories.
RPF: What’s your favorite breed of pigs?
BH: Growing up, all of my siblings and I tried to show a different breed so that we wouldn’t compete against each other at the shows. My brother always had a Berkshire in the barn, I always had a Chester White and my sister always showed the Yorkshires. After Jill retired from the show ring, I took over showing the Yorkshires. I do love Yorkshires!
RPF: Why is it important to be involved in a youth organization like the National Junior Swine Association?
BH: The NJSA has played a huge role in who I am today. The opportunities that I have been given through this organization are endless, and I believe that it is a great youth organization to be a part of. Throughout the years, I have attended many different shows in different states and have made lifelong friends because of it. Aside from the shows, attending Youth Leadership Conferences put on through the NJSA are great learning experiences. This organization has played a great role in shaping my leadership skills while making me a well-rounded person.
RPF: What have you learned from being a member of the NJSA?
BH: I have learned that showing pigs is more than just showing pigs. It is about making a positive impact on the industry, meeting new people and creating life long memories. The memories that I’ve made alongside my family throughout the years are something that I will truly cherish for my lifetime. This industry has created great memories in the barn with my family, great memories at shows with friends and great connections with breeders from all over.
RPF: How was it being an intern for the National Swine Registry (NSR?)
BH: Serving as the 2018 Marketing and Communications Intern for the NSR was an amazing experience. It taught me a lot about communications in the swine industry, while getting to work alongside great people. This experience was rewarding as well. After showing at National shows growing up, it was awesome to be on the other side of things and see all that goes on to put on these shows for the youth.
RPF: What’s the best memory you have about being a part of the NJSA?
BH: I have made a lot of awesome memories throughout the years, whether they are at shows or back home in the barn. My favorite moments are the moments surrounded by my family and breeders that have become close friends, watching my hard work pay off throughout the years.