Dairy Girl Network president, Laura Daniels, said she is proud to be serving the dairywomen of the organization. Daniels, a dairy farmer from Cobb, Wis., started the organization with a group of friends in 2012 that has now grown to over 700 online registered members nationwide.PHOTO BY CASSIE OLSON
Dairy Girl Network president, Laura Daniels, said she is proud to be serving the dairywomen of the organization. Daniels, a dairy farmer from Cobb, Wis., started the organization with a group of friends in 2012 that has now grown to over 700 online registered members nationwide.
MADISON, Wis. - Laura Daniels, a dairy farmer from Cobb, Wis., is passionate about two things: cows and the farm women who care for them.
On Sept. 30, Daniels was welcomed by 180 other dairy women attending the Dairy Girl Networking Event held in Madison, Wis., during World Dairy Expo. Prior to the event, Daniels was named president of the Dairy Girl Network - a growing organization that helps women achieve personal and professional development within the industry.
Daniels, who milks 250 Jerseys on her dairy farm with her husband, Jarred, has been with the Dairy Girl Network since its start in 2012. The idea for the organization was developed by Daniels and a group of friends who identified the potential to connect women from all across the country.
"We're all so busy working; getting to expo, getting off the farm, making connections. It's a challenge just to meet up with one another," Daniels said.
When the network began three years ago, 45 women gathered at a networking event held during World Dairy Expo. The success of the first event was the eye-opening realization Daniels needed to push it forward.
"Women from across the nation, hungry to connect, showed us that they need more; they want more," Daniels said.
The network, whose online membership comes with no charge, has since grown to include 700 registered members at its website and over 2,000 members on its private Facebook page. Daniels is pleased with the network's acceptance and growth.
"The Dairy Girl Network has enjoyed so much growth, so quickly," Daniels said. "It has been an incredible extension throughout the nation to help better ourselves."
Daniels credits much of the network's quick development to its devoted sponsors: DairyBusiness Communications, Diamond V, Elanco, Land O' Lakes, Inc., and Immucell.
"Without their help, all of this would not be possible," Daniels said.
Kristy Pagel, representative of Diamond V, said the Dairy Girl Network was a cause that made sense to support.
"Nearly 30 percent of the farm operators on U.S. farms are women. This number continues to grow and we are here to support them as we support all involved in agriculture," Pagel said.
In addition to her current roles with Diamond V, Pagel grew up as the fifth generation on her family's farm. From both farm and industry standpoints, she sees and appreciates the goals of the Dairy Girl Network.
"I had so many instrumental women who have helped and inspired me over the years. Coming from an industry perspective, there are so many women involved [in the dairy industry] and Dairy Girl Network is a great opportunity for them," Pagel said.
The Dairy Girl Network's motto, "Connect. Inspire. Achieve.," is reflected in numerous activities that the organization has developed over time, including networking events hosted in Reno, Nev., Sioux Falls, S.D., Harrisburg, Pa., and Madison, Wis.
"More women are stepping into leadership roles on farms than ever before. It's all the more reason to have a strong network of women to lean on," Daniels said.
The Dairy Girl Network is creating just that as it enters its third year of event planning. Currently in the works are the development of a national conference and a mentoring program in which women will be paired together from across the nation.
As the network continues to grow, Daniels is aware of the many women who will never be able to attend a Dairy Girl Network event. That, she said, is the target audience.
"There are hundreds of women on farms who are unable to attend our events for a variety of reasons. They aren't able to meet us in person, so we need to continue to connect with those women who are remotely isolated," Daniels said.
Social media has been instrumental in extending the organization to those who cannot attend annual events.
"With our Facebook group, we get the full gamut. There are a lot of exchanges that go on in social media and we see everything from what decisions to make on the farm to personal encouragement," Daniels said.
Daniels is excited by the organization's development and the potential she sees in her membership. She is also thankful for the opportunities that have led her to where she is today.
"Chances to engage in entry-level leadership helped me by making opportunities to grow as a person," Daniels said. "Now, that's what fuels my fire: giving members of our network chances to step into leadership. Their potential motivates me to be better for them."
With the encouragement of her fellow dairy girls, Daniels looks forward to the upcoming year of opportunity for the Dairy Girl Network.
"The experience of women involved within the dairy industry differs from that of women in other areas of agriculture," Daniels said. "The female demand in dairy is growing and we have so very much to share."
The Dairy Girl Network is open to any woman involved in the industry. Daniels encourages dairy farm and industry women to check out a networking event near them and consider joining the network. To learn more about upcoming events and to join the online network, visit www.dairygirlnetwork.com.