Meet Melissa Grimmel Schaake —
Melissa is a familiar face to many of us in livestock circles, and we’re so happy to announce that Melissa will be assisting us at The Grand Fiesta Maine-Anjou & Chianina National Jr. Show in Grand Island, Nebraska. This young lady is wildly talented and we are very excited to have her on our crew, and share with all of you the pictures she’ll capture in the ring and at various events during the event!
As an introduction, Melissa has answered a few questions to help us all get to know her better.
Share a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Maryland as a first generation Hereford breeder and fifth generation grain farmer. Throughout my junior show career, I admired the agricultural atmosphere and the people of the midwest during our travels to livestock shows. I attended college at Kansas State University and graduated in 2016 with dual degrees in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, and Animal Sciences and Industry. My husband, Shane, and I now live in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where we continue to breed and raise Simmental and Hereford cattle. Our program utilizes an extensive AI, ET and IVF program designed around successful cow families within their respective breeds, including our past show heifers. We continue to serve large roles with Grimmel Girls Show Cattle and Schaake Farms by marketing our genetics in our annual sales. We take pride in building strong customer relationships, and helping others be successful. I work in my home office as a full-time Graphic Designer for Ranch House Designs, Inc., and also own and operate Melissa Photography – a natural light livestock, agricultural and portrait photography company. I also enjoy working with other livestock photography companies within the industry.
How long have you been a photographer?
I purchased my very first camera in 2013 to not only capture the beautiful sceneries along my travels, but to better promote my family’s show cattle operation. It turned out to be a great way to combine my love for art and livestock. This purchase evolved into helping others promote their own businesses through livestock photography, as well as family, seniors and couples portrait photography. I am honored to have mentored and worked with some of the top photographers in the industry. So, I guess I have been a photographer for just over 5 years.
What’s your favorite memory from your own years showing livestock?
Like I previously mentioned, I am a first-generation Hereford breeder – I was not born into a Hereford family, and certainly did not kick off my junior show career by winning banners. I’ve had my fair share of being dead last in class, which is why I think my family and I fully appreciate our past successes – we literally started from the bottom.
When asked this question, two accomplishments immediately come to mind. 2016 was a huge year for us. First, we exhibited the Grand Champion Polled Hereford Heifer at the 2016 National Western Stock Show. For a long time, just exhibiting at a major show like the NWSS was a goal for us. To win a class was huge. So to compete against the top Hereford breeders and cattle in the world and to win that title was indescribable. It is something we will never, ever forget!
The second accomplishment that comes to mind is winning Champion Overall Senior Showman at the 2016 JNHE in Madison, Wisconsin. Showmanship was always my strong suit and something I enjoyed participating in since we didn’t always have the best quality of cattle to do well in the heifer show. However, I knew if I could magnify their strengths and mask their weaknesses, I could be bumped up a few placings. This happened more times than not with my showmanship skills. So to win this honor at my very last JNHE as an exhibitor was overwhelming to say the least.
Why are you looking forward to the Maine/Chi Jr. Nationals?
I have heard amazing things about the Maine/Chi Junior Nationals. I have never attended another breed’s Junior National, so I am excited to see how they compare. I am looking forward to meeting new faces, and seeing old!
Tell us something you think others would be surprised to know about you.
I attended an all-girls Private Catholic High School in Baltimore City. Let’s just say I taught them a lot about the livestock world lol.