I’ve had the pleasure of attending both Dairy Girl Network’s (DGN) National Conferences — the inaugural event held in Minneapolis two years ago, and the most recent one in Pennsylvania just two weeks ago. Although each conference had its own theme and vibe, a similar message resonated with me from both — how do I become a better version of myself?
Surrounded by hundreds of women, all living and working in the dairy industry, I listened to Laura Daniels (DGN founder and president) open the event with an immeasurable passion for inspiring us to be resilient as we face a variety of changes and challenges. In those three days, I also witnessed these women, much like myself, have several “aha moments” and excitedly take note in their journals. I asked a few of these women to open their journals to me.
- “Not only should perseverance be the mindset of ‘just keep going,’ but the intentional practice for growth. Just as much as we have to keep going, we have to intentionally work and practice to grow. Change is inevitable, and I’m excited to grow and learn through this new lens of perseverance.” (Abigail Martin, Marketing Trainee at DeLaval)
- “I spent three days with bold, brave, and innovative thinkers who will no doubt ensure the dairy industry continues to be a staple in a healthy and sustainable lifestyle of our consumers.” (Rebecca Shaw, U.S. Dairy Marketing Specialist at Cargill)
- “During the Leading an Engaged Workforce panel, one woman shared that when she hires new team members, she spends a lot of time with them the first couple of days and says, “Welcome to our family.” It helps employees feel more connected and breaks down barriers.” (Christine Bender, Herd Manager at McFarlandale Dairy)
- “My key takeaway from the conference is self-awareness. Whether I’m looking to the future, building a team, or communicating with customers, I want to make sure I reflect on myself and how I handle different situations.” (Amy VanderMark, Transition Director at Mill Haven Foods)
- “The future of our industry is bright because these women will continue to put their stamp on shaping the direction of our industry. The enthusiasm, optimism, and passion for the business despite tough times showcased why working in this industry is so fulfilling!” (Ryan Toney, Strategic Account Manager at Cargill)
Now, back to my own “aha moment” and how I’ve walked away from both conferences wanting to be a better version of myself. My first step in this journey was identifying my value words, which Laura referred to us as our personal compass. I chose family, fun, and forward. How these are exactly defined and implemented is still a work in progress, but one thing is for certain — writing my first (this) blog after talking about it since the inaugural conference is one step forward.
If you weren’t lucky enough to join us in Pennsylvania, take a look through the lens of those who were there. Be resilient; intentionally practice personal growth; be bold, be brave, and be innovative; treat team members like you’d treat your family; be aware of yourself and how you handle different situations; use your passion and optimism to get through these tough times; and define (and use) your own personal compass.
The author is the digital marketing manager and leads the development and implementation of digital marketing channels and advertising products for Hoard’s Dairyman. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she previously led U.S. and global marketing activities in the cattle genetics industry and has had a lifelong passion for advancing the success of agriculture.