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

Promoting the "People Behind the Product"

By Katie Steinlage- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Since being crowned at the Iowa State Fair in August, I've been busy with my dairy princess duties. I've had many opportunities to travel around the state informing the public about the dairy industry. Two highlights of my reign include giving tours to students during the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo and teaching fourth and fifth graders about the digestive tract of a dairy cow here at NICC.

"People Behind the Product" is one of the important initiatives of Midwest Dairy Association through the dairy checkoff. This slogan showcases the many family farms across the Midwest and their importance in maintaining balanced farming practices and compassionate animal husbandry techniques. It puts emphasis on how families take pride in producing nutritious, delicious and wholesome dairy products.

The point for us is simply this: step up to the challenge to inform and educate consumers about the benefits of the dairy products we produce. We, the dairy industry, need to continue to stay committed to a lifetime and lifestyle of good choices - from management decisions that apply to our own operations to the product selection displayed in aisles of our local grocery stores.

One influential statement someone once told me was to find something in life that you love to do and work at it with everything you have. A quote by Benjamin Franklin reads, "Energy and persistence conquer all things ..." which makes me think about some farm families I have met in my lifetime. I would love to share with you three of the most attractive qualities that I have seen displayed by these farm families. I hope this will serve as the same kind of encouragement to you as it has to me.

The first of these three qualities is dedication. Often when we think of dedication, we think of people who work really hard toward a specific goal with the desire to succeed. This makes me think of the how both the economy and Mother Nature have not only challenged farmers in the past, but even now as we look into the future. With fluctuating milk prices, feed costs and the rising costs of daily living, it can be hard to make ends meet.

Recently I was interviewing a student who was running for office in a college organization. When I asked the student who had influenced him most in his life and why, his response was simple. It was his parents and their dedication to raising him and his four siblings on the family farm, even when they went through many financial hardships. Tears began to well up in his eyes as he shared that his parents did everything they could to keep the family farm even when they were about to lose it all. He simply stated it was because of their dedication.

The next two most attractive qualities I have seen displayed by farmers seem to go together: persistence and passion.

Persistence is the drive to succeed, conquer and give everything you have to be your best. This quality leads me to share a story about a young farm family that went through two tragic experiences, and how this family chose to make the best of the situation and continue with what they loved doing - dairy farming. This family first experienced a house fire that destroyed most, if not all, of their personal possessions. When prompted by the questions of whether or not to get out of farming and start their lives over, they decided to continue farming. As a family, they proceeded to make the best of what they had been dealt. Then, only a few short years later, the family experienced one of the most painful things anyone could bear: the death of someone who left a legacy of persistence and passion for life and for farming. Passion is the deep love for something that excites your inner being, which is exactly what this young person will forever be remembered for.

I would like to thank everyone for giving me opportunity to serve as Iowa Dairy Princess. Your dedication to, passion for and persistence in the dairy industry will continue as a legacy to future generations.

Katie Steinlage is the daughter of Gary Steinlage and Mary Roach of West Union, Iowa. She attends NICC and plans to transfer to Iowa State to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine. In her role as Iowa Dairy Princess, she appears at numerous events to promote the wholesomeness of dairy products and tell the story of those who produce them. If you have a consumer appearance at which you'd like her to appear, please contact Bev Lehs at 515-965-4620 or e-mail [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]


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