I’m married and have two boys who are seven and five, with another child on the way. We live outside of Shawano, where we raise a few Holstein show heifers for the kids. I graduated from UW-Platteville with an animal science degree with a double emphasis in dairy science and agriculture business. We dairy farmed for a few years in Lafayette County before selling the cows and moving north. Now, I am an independent dairy nutritionist with Barton Kiefer Dairy Consulting. In our free time, we enjoy working with our heifers and going to shows, riding side-by-sides and watching the boys play sports. I also enjoy fitness and reading.
What do you enjoy most about your career in agriculture? Why?
I love being able to work with dairy farmers every day! Ultimately, I love cows and being in the barns with them. It broke my heart when we had to sell but this role lets me continue working with cattle and farmers. One of my favorite things is helping my clients reach their big goals. Feeding cows is great, but knowing what you’re doing is directly impacting the farm’s profitability is truly what keeps me at it day after day.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career in agriculture and how do you handle them?
In the nutrition side of the agriculture world, the volatility of the markets is always a challenge. Prices are continuously changing and with that, we are tweaking and changing diets to keep the cows healthy and the farmers profitable.
What is one agriculture experience that has defined you and why?
Selling our cows when COVID-19 hit was a defining moment in my life. It set me down a path that I never imagined my life going. Up until that point, I had one goal and when I lost it, I was forced to figure out how to pivot and start over. Truth be told, it’s ended up way better than I could have ever imagined. Do I miss the cows and being an active dairy farmer? Yes, but I also love what I get to do daily now.
What is a Farm Bureau experience that you are most proud of and why?
I am super proud of my involvement with our county’s Brunch on the Farm. It is such a great event to get the general public out on a farm and to be able to teach them about agriculture.
What is something that most Farm Bureau members would not know about you?
I’m a fitness junkie. I love to lift weights and workout. It’s my form of stress relief and self-care!
Why are you proud to be a Farm Bureau member?
I am proud to be a Farm Bureau member because of what this organization does. Being a voice and advocating for this great industry is important to me. I love being able to further educate the public on agriculture.
What advice do you have for new Farm Bureau members or those looking to get more involved?
Jump in! There are always things going on and ways to get involved. Jump in and put yourself out there!
Column originally appeared in the October | November 2023 Rural Route.