Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Revisiting the National 4-H Dairy Conference

I drove into Madison, Wisconsin tonight and am currently at a hotel for my short visit to Madison.  The last time, and only other time, I was in this city was in 2006 for the National 4-H Dairy Conference. As I drove by ABS Global on my way into Madison tonight, I was reminded of that conference and how much it impacted me.

When I attended, I was a junior in high school and had just started dating my boyfriend who also attended the conferenc., We were two of over 20 Minnesota delegates to this large conference held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.  The Gopher Dairy Club typically sponsors MN delegates.

The National 4-H Dairy Conference (NDC) was truly an amazing opportunity, and continues to be a great experience for high school 4-Hers involved in the dairy industry.  I'd recommend it anyone.  I remember most of my fellow Minnesota delegates and still keep in touch with many of them, and continue to see many active in the dairy industry. 3 (the boyfriend included) were even 4-H State Ambassadors with me, an experience I intend to write about later.
About half of the MN group at the National 4-H Dairy Conference next to a cow statue on State Street in Madison.  I'm on the far left in the first row.  

Today I'm thankful that NDC exposed me to how diverse the dairy industry is.  Before, I had learned about other types of dairies but hadn't visited any larger than 100 cows.  The conference brought me to large dairies with rotary parlors, dairies that produce their own cheese, organic dairies larger than my family's, custom heifer growers, farms with methane digesters, Hoard's Dairyman (the office and the Guernsey farm), and ABS Global, among others.  

I have always had an interest in agriculture and love cows, but it was during NDC that I became absolutely certain that I wanted to have a career in agriculture.  Attending a large-scale conference like NDC allowed me to get outside the box of my local county and state and really immerse myself in not just dairy, but agriculture as a whole as well.  After all, as diverse as dairy is, the agriculture industry as a whole is even more diverse.  The conference further developed my infinite desire to learn more, see more, and do more in regards to agriculture.  

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