Well, many of you may be wondering why I started this now. Just because I started taking this social media class?
Well, actually no.
I’ve been openly advocating for the dairy industry for years now just never on paper, errr blog post, for you to keep records of. I first started when I became the Wisconsin Holstein Association Princess in 2012. I ran because I mean, who wouldn’t want a big sparkly crown?! Noo, I’m kidding (partially)! I really did because of the number of prior princesses who had great success within the dairy industry after their term. In fact my big sister in my sorority, Association of Women in Agriculture (AWA), was the one to pass down her crown to me! She now works at Bader & Rutter and promotes animal health, still regularly advocating for the dairy industry! So as you can see it’s a pretty great program to be involved with if you want to speak to the community about the importance of the dairy industry.
Much of what I did was travel to schools talking to kindergarten – 4th graders. In these classroom visits we would talk about everything from how to milk a cow, how calves are born, to how milk is “made from blood”. That usually always got their attention! It was in the classroom that I decided I needed to help educate others about the dairy industry when a 3rd grade boy stated that milk was made by men. He could not believe that a cow produced milk, nor that milk made cheese or butter or ice cream. And not only that but he wouldn’t believe it either. 3rd grade! I was speechless.
However, not all of what I did as princess was that shocking. I also worked with juniors within the association, encouraging them to try new activities, to grow their experience within the association and to make life long friends. I also pushed calves, wiped butts and other casual princess duties. After my year as princess was over the advocate in me came out while on campus. I started a professional twitter where I tweeted experiences to my followers, I joined clubs, I helped spread the udderly (get it?!) good word in my classrooms and often ended striking up a conversation at our Thursday night bar about why I’m wearing cowboy boots (they’re fabulous!) which leads to cows, cows and more cows. I am proud to say that I know I was not the only one on campus doing that at the time either. I lived with two great girls who also participated in these activities and we lived in a house with 25 other girls with a similar passion. We were really trying to make a difference. But it wasn’t until one night at the Steenbok Library that I myself stood up for agriculture in a very “Laura like” fashion. I wrote a small note to a boy who sat across from me that had some shirt about PETA being sexy. Well growing up in the industry we all know that even saying PETA is like spitting out poison. I also lived with a father who had a pretty classy sticker on the back of his truck that said “PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals” among many others to that extent. To say the least I had to look twice due to my visual displeasure the first time. My note may have been a wee bit spirited – claiming that there are plenty of sexy farmers, don’t worry I got your back boys – but overall giving him information about real Wisconsin dairy farms. I also shared it on Facebook because I mean, if it’s not on Facebook did you even do it?! To sum up my note in less than two pages…
- The dairy industry contributes $26.5 billion to our states economy
- The average cow generates $20,000 a year in economic activity
- It’s a family affair, 98% of farms are family farms
- Farmers treat their cows like family, they are what’s putting food on the table and clothes on their back
- Then I went into my weekend…
- Helped my roommate with chores all weekend so her family could go to the YFA conference which is their only vacation within the year
- The usual chores on a dairy farm; milking, feedings, bedding, calves, etc.
- Helped a cow give birth to a healthy heifer at 3:00 am – pointing out this was the time most college kids were leaving the bar
- What I go to school for (Life Sciences Communication (formerly known as Ag Journalism) and Dairy Science)
- Encouraged him to visit a dairy farm
- Provided him with numerous sources he could look into about agricultural practices, one being Dairy Carrie’s “Sometimes we are Mean to our cows” blog post http://dairycarrie.com/2013/12/09/cowabuse/
Now I hope you can see that I’m not just doing this for a grade but rather because it is something that I am very passionate about. It’s also something I’ve been striving to do for years now and maybe this class was just the gateway for me to start communicating to a much larger audience! So now I invite you, all my internet friends, to join this conversation. When you meet someone who hasn’t experienced an agricultural rich life, share a piece of yours with them!