September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Embracing technology

By MarJenna McWilliam- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

A simple swipe of a finger over my phone screen and I am connected to anyone in the world. I can have today's dairy markets right in the palm of my hand. Connecting with the millions of Facebook users are only two clicks away. During this past month, I have continued to get further and further involved in my events. It has been a month of learning and truly seeing the importance that technology has in our future as an industry. Technology is continuing to advance and in return we have the opportunity to progress with it.
In my father's life time, the entire dairy industry has evolved with technology. He first began milking in the barn with his family at the ripe old age of 4. Everyone in the family helped with the milking as it was completed by hand. My dad was able to experience the beginning of the importance of having a milking machine. Technology improving the industry has continued. I grew up on a small farm but it was when we went to Breakfast on the Farms or other events where I began to see how technology was the game changer. I remember making sure to see a robotic milking machine for the first time at the Minnesota State Fair in the cattle barn next to the milking parlor. I remember standing there in complete amazement watching the red light of the laser position the machine on each quarter. I never thought they would have caught on, but now many dairies are making the transition to being fully automated.
Technology is continuing to grow. It is a topic I addressed when I spoke at the Gopher Dairy Club banquet and Stearns County Dairy Princess and Ambassadors coronation. The use of social media provides an avenue for all of us to use technology in a positive light for the dairy industry. We all have the ability to put our stories and farm out there to the world through social media. We can share with potentially millions our experiences each day. The stories of the new lives we welcome on our farm when that newborn calf arrives or the first signs of spring, which are right around the corner. It has been one of my own personal goals to try to explain the importance and positives of the industry. We all can show people the positive and accurate picture of dairy farming. A photo is aid to be worth a thousand words so let's capture those moments of the new baby calf. The Fuel Up to Play 60 program has launched their Instagram account this month. This social media outlet lets users post pictures and a caption and it can even connect to a Facebook account. We all have the tools now to get engaged and share the images that to us are everyday pictures.
A number of my peers I met this past month are increasing their engagement for the dairy industry with the use of technology. Speaking at the Gopher Dairy Club banquet was very enlightening and it was wonderful to witness the work of this tremendous campus organization and the number of members who participate in their activities each year. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new people but also to see some familiar faces. The Princess Kay program has had many young women that are and have been strongly involved in the club. It was only a matter of hours that pictures from the banquet started surfacing online sharing the excitement of the afternoon with others.
I had a similar experience when I spoke at the Stearns County coronation. It was my first county coronation I had ever participated in, since my home county is just a bit smaller in size for the number of dairy farms! Congratulations to Stearns for hosting a fantastic evening and celebrating 60 years of dairy princesses. At the coronation, the young women were very well spoken and I could see their enthusiasm for the industry. As young women, it is a great experience to represent the industry in a way that we can get actively involved not just on, but off the farm. A number of county dairy princess programs have started Facebook pages that showcase their events throughout the year. Other counties are involved in showcasing their dairy farms and sharing with consumers the technology changes on the farm.
Many counties are currently hosting their coronations and inducting new young women into the prestigious role of representing all the dairy farms in their county. For that, I feel each dairy farmer deserves a big thank you. You give us the support and guidance we need to transition into more active roles. If it wasn't for the support of my parents, my county, and all the dairy farmers in the state, I wouldn't have the opportunity of having this role. Like all the county dairy princesses and ambassadors, we wouldn't be able to give back through representing the industry that has given us so much. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work together and share our stories to really make a difference in how people respond to the industry. It is really wonderful to go to events and meet and talk with dairy farmers from around the state. We all have different farms and experiences to share. I am grateful for the hospitality I have received from the new people I have met through this role. I could never say thank you enough for supporting the younger generation in our aspirations to get involved with the industry we all love. Keep embracing the new technologies that work for you to continue to share your story with others.
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