What were you doing 25 years ago?
One might think conjuring up details from a quarter century ago would be a difficult pursuit, but for me, vivid memories rise to the surface, making it feel much more recent.
I was fortunate to be here 25 years ago when the first issue of Dairy Star flew off the press.
While I was a writer and salesperson for the local Sauk Centre Herald, an always thought-provoking dairy farmer, Jerry Jennissen, thought the area would benefit from having a paper strictly geared toward dairy farmers.
After discussing the venture with Jeff Weyer, the then sales manager of the Sauk Centre Herald, and mentioning the idea to the then Sauk Centre Herald publisher Dave Simpkins, we decided to give Jennissen’s idea the go-ahead.
After working on the inaugural issue for several weeks, Dairy Star was born Feb. 27, 1999. Then and for many issues after, designer Janell Westerman and writer and assistant editor Andrea Borgerding and I crafted each issue along with Weyer and sales person Laura Seljan.
Our first paper was delivered to mailboxes throughout Stearns County. Approximately 750 dairy farmers dotted the landscape in this dairy-rich county at that time.
In the inaugural issue, we highlighted Mennonite families that had moved to the Stearns County area. We published a column about the worst day on a farm and included relevant information for dairy farmers, like market updates.
Our mission then was to publish a newspaper about farmers for farmers. We wanted to be a median where farmers could share workings from their farms with other farmers.
And now, all these years later, our focus remains the same: We synchronize our efforts to craft a paper highlighting the dedicated, hard-working dairy farmers and the news happening in their farm yards.
I have a lot of family who milk cows, which includes five brothers, two nephews and a brother-in-law. But when I think of my dairy family, I believe it stretches to everyone who milks cows. Whether you milk 50 or 1,000 cows, you are part of a unique family with one thing in common.
You work tirelessly to produce milk to feed a growing population. Our family numbers go down yearly, but the value or importance of being a dairy farmer only rises.
As a dairy newspaper, our job is to cover the farmer’s daily trials, whether good or, sometimes, not so good.
That scope can be pretty encompassing because of the vastness of the challenge of operating a dairy farm. There are so many things that happen on a dairy farm every day; there are equally many thoughts from those same farmers on how they hope tomorrow can be a little easier.  
Since day one, the stories we have featured are often informational and otherwise entertaining. Our story list covers the gamut of ideas.
We cover the broad technology boom we are within and dairy farmers receiving awards – from low somatic cell count to sustainable farming to tremendous farm families. We put pen to paper, highlighting farms handed down from generation to generation. We bring dairy-related news from our government and shine a light on dairy consumption and promotion. We share dairy farmers’ hobbies and pastimes. We journey through the tragedies that occur and rally among our dairy farming community.
The ideas are countless because of the incredible diversity of what it takes to be a dairy farmer.
The paper remains free thanks to the support of our advertisers. Without their belief in us, the paper could not exist.
Dairy Star is delivered to mailboxes on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. While our sales team is visiting with dairy advertisers, our writers are heading up driveways to interview farmers about their thoughts and ideas.   
Then, our ads are sent to our designers, and stories with photos are sent to our Sauk Centre, Minnesota, office. Within three to four days, we are ready to print.
As we embark on our 25th year, we have several significant changes within Dairy Star.
You’ll notice our year-long theme celebrating 25 years. Starting with this issue and for the following 23 issues, we will give away $100 cash. All you have to do is find the 25-year logo in each issue of Dairy Star and mail us the form or enter online at www.dairystar.com. We will draw one winner for each issue.
Secondly, we have content-driven changes starting with a shift in our Day in the Life feature being bolstered into a photo story feature. Day in the Life has been a popular feature for many years, and moving into the upcoming year, we plan to make this small but impactful change.
Another new feature we plan to highlight is introduced in this issue – The Day That Went Awry. Within this feature, we will visit with farmers about when things didn’t necessarily go according to plan. That might include equipment breaking down when traveling down the road or a cow putting herself into a position where words cannot explain how she got there nor how a farmer can get her out. Or, it could simply be when one breakdown leads to another, and by the end of the day, a cold drink is the answer.
We hope to continue to land on the top of your mail stack every two weeks. Between our feature stories, columns, and question-and-answer responses, know you are not the only one fighting the good fight. What you do really matters.