Eight years ago, I was a ripe college graduate with my sights set to the sky of what I could accomplish as a storyteller in the dairy industry.
Dairy Star presented an opportunity for me to tell your stories, for which I am eternally grateful. I arrived on many farms a complete stranger with a notebook and camera in tow, and you welcomed me. While another opportunity has me forging a new path in dairy communications, I’d be remiss to not take this space to reflect on the most memorable times spent a part of this tight-knit dairy community.
My interviews took me across the coverage area, and just a half mile shy of the Canadian border. I waited for rainstorms to pass inside milkhouses and interviewed many from a tractor cab. In a few instances, some saw me mere days before the birth of our children and have heard stories of the Coyne boys keeping us on our toes.
I spoke with countless families who received notable awards in their communities, who welcomed younger generations home, and those who adapted their farms for the future of the industry. I cried at a kitchen table as a couple shared their terminal cancer diagnosis, and I gleamed with pride for you when your daughter was named Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Each and every one of these interactions was unforgettable.
Some offered beverages, others lunch or snacks for the drive back to the office.
One summer morning, Lawrence “Duke” Pennings, of Blomkest, Minnesota, was as hospitable as a man from the South. The then-86-year-old and his grandson, Wes, welcomed me to their farm with a platter of freshly-cooked bacon, eggs and pancakes; a true feast. Conversation was pleasant as we spoke of the Iowa native’s start in the industry and the utter happiness he had to continue farming alongside his grandson.
After that article printed, Duke reached out and offered his thanks for the effort I put into portraying his life’s work. It was never me who deserved the recognition.
In 2018, the Super Bowl came to Minnesota. To celebrate the state’s rich agriculture sector on a national stage, Land O’Lakes hosted the Farm Bowl, which brought together dairy farmers from across the United States to participate in an obstacle course with renowned football athletes.
Before and during the event, I met these stars. They took the opportunity to use the newspaper as a way to share their own messages about farming. Former NFL center and current farmer, himself, Jason Brown said, “No matter your age or where you’re from, we can all get excited about agriculture.”
I think that sentiment still rings true.  
My own small claim to fame came in the form of a five-second clip from the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand at the Minnesota State Fair. I was serving milk with a group of central Minnesota dairy farmers when a local broadcasting station stopped by for footage. Lucky for them, my hand placement in delivering a cup of milk was square in front of the camera.
It has always been a joy representing the dairy community on a larger scale and for the greater good. I hope my contributions were valuable.
I attended Dairy Day at the Capitol and had the pleasure of serving on a committee for the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Each time, a group of forward-thinking individuals came together with a vision that could better the industry.  
Throughout my time, I participated in many trade shows and industry events. When Dairy Star took on the responsibility of publishing the World Dairy Expo Daily Edition, not only was I tasked with overseeing that publication, but I also made connections with dairy farmers across the globe.
Every experience has shown me a different facet of the industry. And in doing so, I formed relationships – many I am confident will be long lasting.
As I look down my new path, this new opportunity, I am reflective of all the opportunities that brought me here.
When opportunity knocked for me to tell your farm story, you took it. Maybe you took it for yourself, but in doing so, you also took it for the entire dairy community. Thank you for taking that opportunity to share your stories and insight, for without it, Dairy Star would not be what it is today.