May 10, 2021 at 7:38 p.m.
Parent: Marty Burken
Blue Hyll Dairy
17 years old
Tell us your favorite experience of your daughter helping with chores. An employee had left us and we had to learn how to culture mastitis colonies. We figured it out together, and now she teaches me; she’s the expert. In a little different setting, she was one of five youth on a panel at a Connect conference we attended in Colorado, and it was a proud Dad moment.
What qualities does your daughter have that benefit the farm? She’s smart, that’s No. 1. She has a go-getter attitude. She also sees things other than what her job requires and has a general knowledge of several aspects of the farm. She has the ability to talk to a Ph.D. in nutrition or a veterinarian just as well as the guys milking the cows. That’s rare in high school kids. And, she has the ability to come to work on time and not take sick days.
What are your responsibilities on the farm? I test for and treat mastitis colonies. I am the reproductive manager and am a general hired hand where I might do anything from scrubbing waterers to taking temps or giving shots. When I work depends on what’s going on. I generally work after school and on weekends. But in the summer, I’m out here in the morning and all day, doing the work or managing my show cows.
When did you begin helping on the farm? I started before I was 10, running lists, but I was milking at 12. The farm, in my experience, was always Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, and my grandpa was amazing to me. He started with five cows, and this is where we are now. When Grandpa passed, I started thinking, “I’m doing agriculture,” and now I would rather be here than anywhere else.
How do you balance school, extracurricular activities and farm chores? I’m in varsity soccer, Interact Club, Student Ambassadors, student council, National Honor Society and 4-H, and I’m student body vice president and vice president of the drama department. I decide what’s important in the long run.
How has working on the farm shaped your character? In every way. My family are the people who are out here. They make the worst days seem fun. It’s a great environment. And there are the other farms around here, too. They always give me confidence. Others in the agriculture field make me feel capable of doing amazing things.
What do you love most about farm life? The way it connects me with these people and these animals. There is so much emotion and so many memories in these barns. For instance, I had my first show heifer here, and over time that became her babies and grandbabies.
What is one thing you have learned from working alongside your dad? You have to be able to go with the flow. I greatly admire my dad for his cool, calm, collected attitude when times are hectic. He rolls with the punches. I’m getting better at it, and at seeing a problem and thinking of a solution.
What are your future plans? I want to go to Iowa State University, probably in animal science, but maybe agricultural business. I’ve been able to job shadow a lot of people, including a nutritionist. Dad says not to limit yourself, so I’m waiting for that spark of inspiration. I might want to be a veterinarian and maybe come back to the farm.