Almost every time I am out with family and friends, I find myself talking about dairy farming. It is something that has been a part of my life for 24 years. With my direct involvement in the dairy community every day, I realize the significance of continuing to share my experiences.
I have found through my conversations with friends and even strangers that a simple farm story can leave a lasting impression. Don’t be afraid to share your best farm stories that are out of the ordinary to build on the dairy community’s positive image.
Some of my best stories come from my childhood growing up on a farm. There was always something to do, whether being the co-pilot in the tractor or milking cows when I was tall enough to reach the buttons in the parlor. I always had the best birthday parties — thanks to the four-wheeler and retired tractor tires. One of my favorite stories comes from when we hosted a breakfast on the farm for Medal of Honor recipients. We met the recipients and shook their hands as they got off the bus. Their mere presence roused a lot of emotions. It was even more special when many of the recipients started talking about their family farm!
Out of the ordinary
Attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, I quickly learned that growing up on a dairy farm — even in America’s Dairyland — is out of the social norm. My classmates couldn’t believe that I had milked a cow. My roommate even asked me how much I showered — I told her, “probably more than you!” I have taken several of my college friends to our farm. One of them even helped deliver a calf. Many of my friends never thought they would visit a dairy farm; it was made possible because I talked openly about my family farm.
I think the future of the dairy community depends heavily on engagement. Agriculture advocates need to share positive messages with the public through many channels, from social media to traditional media to one-on-one conversations.
Recently, I found myself striking up a conversation with a stranger at a grocery store and sharing that my dad is a dairy farmer. I thanked the man for supporting my family. I challenge you to give it a try. You will get some interesting looks, but it will be a memorable moment for you and the people you meet.
Customers are further removed from farming than ever before. This unfamiliarity and the proliferation of misinformation online make connecting with them critically important. By working together, we can create a dialogue based on accurate and positive information.
June Dairy Month is the perfect opportunity to start the conversation. Contact me to learn more about connecting with customers at firstname.lastname@example.org.