“My main purpose in life is to become the best version of myself while sharing all that I have to offer with family, friends and in my career. I want to be a voice for agriculture that needs no introduction and is easily recognized for my hard work ethic and positive impact on the world.”
Growing up in a single-parent home, Savannah could have focused on what she didn’t have; however, her determination to succeed and to help others sets hers apart.
The Big Brown Cow
Savannah was raised in Clark County by her father, Daniel Brown. Despite not being raised on a farm, her grandparents lived down the road from a dairy farm where she soon grew a love for Brown Swiss cows.
“I would do anything to go to the farm,” said Savannah.
Savannah basically grew up on the 100 registered Brown Swiss farm, showing cows as an active member of the Disco Kids 4-H Club and Neillsville FFA.
“Showing cattle taught me responsibility and accountability and instilled in me the joy of continuous learning,” said Savannah. “Being involved in FFA and 4-H taught me [many skills]. My FFA advisor was one of my best cheerleaders. She advocated for me and supported everything that I did.”
Savannah later attended UW-River Falls where she earned her bachelor’s degree in dairy science with a minor in agricultural business. While attending college she was active in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Dairy Club and Collegiate Farm Bureau. She also served as the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Queen in 2014.
After college, Savannah first worked for Foremost Farms before beginning her career with Land O’Lakes in Black River Falls in 2016. More than a half-century ago, Land O’Lakes developed the first calf milk replacer. Since then, the company has introduced many other firsts in milk replacers for calves, lambs, kids and foals.
In March 2020, she became plant manager for Land O’Lakes.
“There are 35 employees who manufacture the world’s best milk replacer, with more than 40,000 tons produced and shipped to places around the world,” said Savannah. “I love my new hat; I never know what the new day will bring.”
At the start of the pandemic, she started researching master’s degree programs.
“At a young age and as a female in a male-dominated career path, I found myself wanting to learn how to develop my leadership skills, lead a successful team and handle conflict using models and theories,” said Savannah. “I wanted to learn with like-minded people.”
With her trademark determination, Savannah took the maximum number of credits and completed the program in one year, earning her master’s degree in organizational leadership and development from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Falling in Love with Farm Bureau
While participating in Collegiate Farm Bureau during college, Savannah was intrigued by the grassroots organization. As she became more involved at the county level, she realized how many activities members can get involved in.
She recalls attending a Young Farmer and Agriculturist event at a local brewery and receiving a Farm Bureau membership packet.
“Next thing I know, I’m serving on the county board of directors, involved in the Promotion and Education committee, serving as the county YFA chair, and participating in the county’s Agriculture in the Classroom, scholarship and Farm Neighbor Cares program committees,” laughed Savannah. “It’s the perfect opportunity to volunteer and to advocate for agriculture.”
One of her favorite county events was Christmas on the Farm.
“We served cookies and hot chocolate with Santa, had horse-drawn wagon rides and a cookie contest that involved FFA and 4-H members and raised money for a Land O’Lakes employee’s husband who was diagnosed with brain cancer,” added Savannah. “About 500 people attended. It was an amazing event.”
She is also a WFBF Leadership Institute graduate and recalled one of the most memorable events was traveling with the WFBF Board of Directors to Washington, D.C., to talk with legislators.
“I’ll admit I didn’t understand the many aspects of policy and I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Savannah. “But the time spent with then WFBF President Jim Holte, other board members and Institute participants was invaluable.”
Savannah has several goals as she chairs the YFA Committee.
“It will be a busy year with a relatively new position at work, serving as chair and serving on the board of directors,” said Savannah. “I hope to bring positivity and determination to succeed to each role.”
Looking to the Future
With determination and knowing the tools for success, Savannah wants to continue to engage Farm Bureau members and advocate for agriculture.
“Someday, I hope to have a hobby farm,” said Savannah, “But right now, I’m enjoying my work and the staff, my leadership role with YFA, serving on the WFBF Board of Directors, having time to sit with family and friends playing Euchre or whatever the day may bring, and continuing to learn along the way.”
In all that she does, Savannah is determined to go above and beyond.
“I don’t want an ordinary life,” said Savannah. “I want an extraordinary one.”
Story by Marian Viney; originally appeared in the February | March 2023 Rural Route.