What was it like growing up on your family’s farm, Mystic Valley Dairy? I feel so blessed to have grown up on my family’s dairy farm right outside Sauk City, about 20 miles north of Madison. From a young age, I had the opportunity to be immersed in the world of agriculture through the Wisconsin Holstein Association, my 4-H club and just by riding along with my dad in our John Deere tractors. My childhood was different than a lot of my peers in one major way: how I spent my summers. While a lot of kids spent their entire summer at camps or running around with their friends, a large chunk of my time focused on preparing my animals for the fair. Whether I was helping my dad clip the hair off of show calves or training my pigs to walk the right way in the show ring, I learned a lot of lessons about accountability and responsibility, even though I wasn’t very old. It wasn’t all work and no play, though. I was able to make friends from all over the state and even country through showing our cows. These people are still some of my best friends to this day because we share a really special bond over our passion for the dairy industry. Not many people can stay close with friends they only see 3-5 times a year, but we always pick right up where we left off!
Thanks for giving our 2018 Wisconsin Idea Seminar group a tour of Mystic Valley Dairy. What is your favorite aspect of giving tours? That was a blast! We regularly host tour groups to our farm from all over, as close as the local daycare and as far away as Russia, China and many other countries from across the world! My favorite tours are ones where we welcome people from non-farm backgrounds, just like the Wisconsin Idea Seminar! I think these are really powerful interactions for us as members of the agriculture industry because we are able to build relationships with people with less understanding of what we do and why we do it. It’s really fun to be able to explain how the neck collars on our cows are like giant Fitbits, or why it is so important to feed cows a specific ration each day!
You are majoring in Life Sciences Communication here at UW-Madison. What are you planning to do with that degree after you graduate? I hope to work in agriculture communications in some way or another! In a couple years, I think I will apply to serve as Alice in Dairyland, a one-year appointment as Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador. I’ve always loved staying up to date with each Alice’s travels and all of the exciting things she does each year, from wading in a cranberry bog to trying as many kinds of Wisconsin cheese as she can!
Is agriculture part of your career goals? The only thing consistent about my career goals over the years has been that I want to stay involved in agriculture in some way. Right now, I’m really interested in food marketing and how farmers can have a more personal relationship with consumers to create a platform for telling their story. I’m currently an intern at a local animal agriculture-related marketing agency in Madison and it’s been really fun!
We heard that you were the 2018 Wisconsin Holstein Association Princess and are now the 2019 Outstanding Holstein Girl. Tell us more! As the 2018 WHA Princess, I was able to travel the entire state of Wisconsin to represent our Association at various shows, schools and community events. Along with the Princess Attendant, I learned a lot about public speaking and educating consumers of all ages. It was such an honor to be named the Outstanding Girl at the 2019 convention! It is the highest honor given to a female Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association member and there is a long application and interview process. My application itself was around 20 pages! Next year, I will give the speech naming the 2020 Outstanding Holstein Boy at convention.
Do you have a favorite memory associated with agriculture? If I had to pick just one, it would be winning junior champion (best young animal) with one of my junior bred and owned animals, Eau My. This means I owned her dam (mother) and she was born on my farm! Today, a lot of people buy their animals to show and it is a really great accomplishment to win with an animal you raised from the day they were born.
Are there any common misconceptions about dairy and agriculture that you wish people were more educated about? There are so many! I think one of the major ones is just knowing what kinds of labels are worth paying more money for. Conventional and organic milks are ALWAYS antibiotic free and are both delicious, nutritious products for you to buy for your family. Organic doesn’t mean it’s healthier or better in any way than normal milk – but it can often be much more expensive!
What is your favorite place to take visitors when they come to UW-Madison? My favorite places are two well-kept secrets: Babcock Hall and Bucky’s Butchery! Babcock is our on-campus creamery, and they have a store on campus where you can get sandwiches, ice cream and, of course, milk and cheese! My favorite flavor of theirs is Orange Chocolate Chip. Bucky’s Butchery is a part of the Meat and Muscle Biology Laboratory on campus. There, students work in meat processing and learn a lot about the livestock industry! I worked as a social media and store intern there for almost two years. The store is open for a few hours each week and they have great deals on many cuts of meat and other products – like Hawaiian Brats! They are both worth a trip to campus for sure.
How do you like to spend your free time? As a student, free time is a little hard to come by! When I have some time off or when I want to study somewhere other than the library, I like going to the terrace with my friends!
Hello, Wisconsin! Stories of the Wisconsin Idea is a profile series that highlights the remarkable ways Wisconsin Idea Seminar alumni, collaborators, and others are animated by the Wisconsin Idea on and off campus.