When someone commits a crime, they must serve the time. However, once some individuals are released from jail, they struggle to acquire the skills they need to find gainful employment.
Meanwhile, dairy producers are struggling to find capable employees to work on their farms.
A new educational partnership between Moraine Park Technical College and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) may create a win-win situation for both parties. A recent graduation celebration was held for the inaugural class of inmate workers completing the Dairy Worker Certificate Training.
The training program was developed for prisoners working at the DOC’s Waupun State Farm. The certificate is a two credit transferable credential that includes instruction in milking, feeding, reproduction, calf care, and farm maintenance skills. The Bureau of Correctional Enterprises also runs a transition program to help ex-offenders find employment after their release.
A total of 60 inmate workers manage a herd of more than 500 cows, 50 dry cows, and 600 heifers on five farms in Wisconsin. The milk, ice cream, and sherbet produced are sold to correctional facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, while the cream is sold to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for making ice cream.
For many of these ex-offenders, they want to do better and be better after prison and just need a second chance. Perhaps dairy farms could be just the place for these individuals to plant their feet on solid ground again. And with proper training, these employees could be just what some dairy farms are looking for.