FRED SWAIN—GIVING JUNIORS A LEG UP
By Gabrielle Glenister
Family, friends and the future are the three key words that describe the focus of Dr. Frederick Swain’s life. The driving force behind the American Junior Simmental Association (AJSA) Eastern Regional fundraiser, Dr. Swain has made a significant and positive difference for junior members in the eastern division of the United States.
Dr. Swain lived on a dairy farm until the age of twenty-one. He graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then went back to school to begin his adventures in pediatric dentistry, which was followed by two years of residency in Indianapolis. With more than ten years of schooling under his belt, Dr. Swain is a true inspiration for juniors across the country to follow their dreams and reach their goals.
Dairy and dentistry? Where do Simmentals come in? Dr. Swain, his wife, Phyllis, and their two sons, Chi and Brian, have developed a productive Simmental herd in their home state of Kentucky. Swain Select Simmental produces 25-30 calves a year, some of which are born via embryo transfer. The Swains offer two opportunities for customers to purchase cattle from the farm. Their “Bulls of the Bluegrass” sale is held annually on the first Saturday in April, and “Belles of the Bluegrass” on the second Saturday in October. The Swains not only market their cattle through their own sales, but also showcase them at the Kentucky Beef Expo, the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), and other sales.
Sons Chi and Brian grew up within the AJSA, first showing Simmental cattle in 4-H at local shows and the state fair. When Chi, the eldest, was ten years old, Col. Clarence Smith initially loaned the boys a heifer to show at the state fair. Swain said that when it was time to return the heifer, it became too difficult. Thus began the foundation of the current herd.
Chi and Brian were actively involved in leadership roles on the AJSA Board of Trustees, each serving two terms. Discussing the impact the AJSA had on his children, Dr. Swain remarked, “The AJSA provides youth with the ability to seize opportunities to develop their minds and maturity.”
Started in 2010, the Eastern Regional fundraiser is a way for states to host the show more easily without footing the entire bill. Dr. Swain introduced the auction as a means to work as a group instead of individual states, while also getting others involved. Dr. Swain and his wife Phyllis continue to see growth in the event, which is held annually in November on the Saturday or Sunday of the Junior Heifer Show weekend at NAILE. Over the course of five years, the event has raised more than $50,000 for the Eastern Regional.
Each year, an average of $15,000 from the fundraiser is presented to the host state. The money goes toward facility, award, exhibitor and other costs associated with running the event. The AJSA Eastern Regional typically has 80-100 head of cattle exhibited by 60-70 young people. It is Dr. Swain’s hope that in time the show will begin rotating locations and funding the event more as a group, rather than waiting for a state to step up as a host.
Dr. Swain said, “Kids learn and mature with the AJSA, and really develop a competence and confidence to compete in society.” One of Dr. Swain’s priorities with this project is to make the people feel important, especially the juniors. However, Dr. Swain believes that the kids need to do the work themselves in order to succeed. He follows through with that by having juniors help before, during and after the fundraiser. His grandchildren are eager to be a part of the Simmental Association. Brian and Heather’s older daughter, Lily, is working hard at creating her own Simmental legacy.
The future of the AJSA Eastern Regional fundraiser looks bright, thanks to the continued support of Simmental enthusiasts. Dr. Swain is hoping for even more growth. Interacting with the people, attending junior events and watching the juniors learn, mature and become productive adults are some of the reasons he loves the Simmental Association so much. He wants to give juniors an advantage in achieving their goals. “As long as they let me, I will keep doing it,” Dr. Swain says with unwavering enthusiasm. Working with people like Dr. Swain is one of the many good reasons to get involved with Simmentals, and better yet, working with the juniors.