A few years ago, the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Committee sponsored t-shirts for junior dairy exhibitors that emblazoned the slogan "Dairy Drives Wisconsin." I like to think a modification of that slogan embodies me: "Dairy Drives Danielle."
The dairy industry runs deep in my veins, with both my parents hailing from registered Holstein dairy farms in Western Wisconsin, and choosing that same path to earn their livelihood and raise their family. My favorite memories growing up were centered in the barn, where we worked as a family doing chores. The time we had to talk and be together while milking or even cleaning calf pens are times I will treasure forever.
Being raised on a dairy farm has truly made me the person I am today. I was raised in the 4-H dairy project, and involved with the dairy judging team, as well as active in the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association, enjoying the wide of variety of activities and friends to be made through that organization.
Growing up on a farm, I learned life skills that are invaluable, and becoming more and more rare in our society. I am blessed to have been able to raise my own child rooted in the experiences of agriculture, teaching him those same life skills that made him seem very different from many of his peers.
Today, my son, Austin, and I are partners in a small herd of registered Jerseys, Holsteins and Ayrshires. Smokin Hot Genetics began in 2008, when my dad and Austin purchased three Jersey heifers together. Over the years, we've enjoyed some great showring successes, including having four animals earn a total of six All-American nominations. Even more exciting for us is that two of them are animals we have bred, and one was nominated three times in milking form. A highlight for both of us came last November with Smokin Hot Lightning Strikes being named Reserve National Junior Champion.
I have been involved with the dairy industry my entire life, and have held several positions in dairy industry media. Prior to joining Dairy Star, I worked as the website administrator for Cowsmopolitan All-Breeds Dairy Magazine and previously as the associate editor at Dairy Agenda Today. I have also spent time producing a local cable news show, serving as a special education teaching assistant and as a receptionist at a small animal hospital.
While I have valued all my work experiences, I have been the most gratified being involved in agriculture, especially the dairy industry. I love working with producers and others involved in production agriculture to share the story of our industry. I enjoy the challenge of working to inform a consuming public that is further and further removed from the farm every year, that their food supply is indeed safe, and created with the utmost pride and care.
Without a doubt, things are always busy on the farm, and for farmers to find the added time to share the story of their work can be daunting. I feel that is where we in the media come in. It's our job to take that story and make it public, to share the passion, the vision, the successes, the struggles, the elation and the heartbreak that make every day a different one on a dairy farm.
With Dairy Star, I hope to be able to help many involved in the dairy industry share their stories, and the things that make them and their operations unique.
After all, it's the dairy industry that drives me.