Adcetera’s stepping it up in the off hours
For 85 years now, The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ has provided fun and entertainment to attendees, and boundless opportunity for participants who raise and bring in livestock to show. As a non-profit, The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ was organized for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes to encourage and promote the breeding, raising, and marketing of better livestock and farm products at public fairs and to promote and maintain research and educational functions within the livestock industry.
To operate and support the nearly 2.5 million people who visit each year, the organization relies heavily on the generous hearts of the thousands of volunteers who carve out an average of 67.7 hours —or about 9 workdays—to help out at the rodeo. In the case of two Adceterans, Roy Smith, VP, Account Development and Mark Williams, Director, Account Development, these are typically hours above, beyond, and outside of their typical working hours. What's also interesting is how Roy and Mark got to where they are in their volunteerism journeys.
Roy always felt he’d like to get involved with the rodeo, but wasn’t sure where to begin. Opportunity struck about 12 years ago at a work event in Mexico. In sharing his interest of the rodeo through a casual conversation with a client, Roy was invited to become a member of the Director’s Club. In his role, he spends most of his time supporting the hospitality provided in the exclusive Director's Club. Many of the club members and visitors are the philanthropists whose eventual bids for winning livestock run into the millions. The club is all about service and keeping visitors happy whether—it’s stocking the bars or escorting VIPs to and through the club.
Over the course of the three-week-long rodeo, Roy works eight 8-hour shifts in addition to 6 to 10 hours of setup and teardown. Roy especially enjoys the evening the club hosts Texas Rangers, decked out in their recognizable uniforms including their elaborately decorated side arms. Overall, one could say that Roy works the on the demand side of the rodeo’s business, which will make even more sense in a minute...
Mark’s involvement began through an interest in the social aspects of volunteerism. The combination of his brother’s involvement, and him being new to Houston, landed him in the Breeders and Greeters Club going on seven years. His minimum 4–8-hour shifts typically start late in the night and run up to about the time his normal workdays begin. Much of what Mark does at the rodeo is behind the scenes—the logistics of getting participants, their livestock and haulers to NRG Park, checking them in and getting them to their stalls and pens. Sounds easy, but if you know Houston traffic, you can guess why "move-ins" are done during the overnight hours.
Poultry showings alone involve about 5,000 entries, which translates to the transportation of the livestock and their handlers to 10 loading docks. This brings us to one of Mark’s memorable and rewarding moments:
There’s a QA process on poultry check-in that involves validating the bird’s vet papers and conducting a quick physical checkup. Entrants can be as young as 7-years-old and can’t have help from family in handling their animals. Mark recalls a particular time, where—at four in the morning—he lent a hand to youngsters trying to handle wing-flapping, 40-pound turkeys for kids that looked smaller than the birds. These are animals that, if they win, can fetch $2,000 at the final auction—a nice nest egg for the child’s future education. This is the supply side of the livestock show and rodeo, where the efforts of thousands of volunteers like Mark connect with those on the demand side – the side where Roy works.
Over the course of the show, the countless of hours of hard work and effort supplied by participants in raising and showing their livestock, produce, and other goods meets up with the bidders. So many generous people, including Corral Club members and visitors, bid on the livestock and other goods. Total proceeds run into many millions of dollars that go toward scholarships, educational endowments, and more. And supporting it all are the thousands—from ticket takers, to Breeders and Greeters, and Director’s Club volunteers—contributing their time to the Mission of The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™.