I first traveled to the Hoard’s Dairyman office with the National 4-H Dairy Conference in 2016. When I came in for that tour, I didn’t have any inclination to come back. It was cool, I thought, a piece of dairy history, but I didn’t think I was going to return.
In October of 2019, I found myself in a completely different mindset, stumbled upon the Hoard’s Dairyman internship application, and decided to apply. Well, in May of 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, I moved to Wisconsin to start my summer as the Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern. It certainly was a spoonful of sugar in a year that I would otherwise compare to a pretty bitter concoction.
It’s been a summer for the record books, in terms of heat waves, pandemic conditions, and learning opportunities. I wrote weekly blogs, contributed to the print magazine (keep an eye out for my articles in the coming months), and fine-tuned my written communications skills. I reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and ate cheese curds in all the forms that I could find.
Throughout my time here, I’ve written technical research based articles and opinion pieces, I visited dairy farmers in New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and I’ve gotten to tell their stories through my work. Here are some lessons that I’ve learned:
- If something is gnawing at you, write about it. In the process of trying to form a cohesive blog or article, you might just find that you feel a whole lot better once you express yourself.
- Ask questions and accept feedback with an open mind. It’s one of the best ways to learn.
- There’s a lot more to a print magazine than you might think. I got to see the ins and outs of this production, and it’s safe to say I’ll never read another issue the same way.
- Dairy producers are wonderful people and will often take time out of their busy schedules to tell you their story. Working with them is one of my favorite things to do, and that’s not an uncommon sentiment across industry professionals. Give them the chance to share their story, and you might just learn something.
- Whether you think you know someone or not, there’s always a connection in the dairy industry, and if you can’t find one, make one.
When I was a junior in high school, I played Mary Poppins in our musical. I carry a lot of lessons from this musical with me every day and have my parrot head umbrella with me whenever I travel. One of my favorite songs, “Anything Can Happen,” has some lyrics that I’ve applied to many situations. They debuted in a speech I made at my high school graduation and have been put to use anytime I’m facing a difficult, yet exciting transition. Their relevance never ceases to amaze me.
If you reach for the stars all you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin.
If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in.
Throughout my time at Hoard’s Dairyman, I’ve tried to reach for the heavens, and I think I got some stars in the process. When I arrived in Wisconsin at the beginning of the summer, I wasn’t sure that I would like it. Now, as I head back to the northeast, I’ll miss the people, the fast-food restaurants, and the dairy community of the Midwest, as well as the wonderful staff at Hoard’s Dairyman.
If you’re a college student in search of your next internship adventure, don’t be afraid to apply for this one. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and the 31 interns before me. Applications are due in October of 2020, so if you have an interest in communications or journalism, this is your opportunity. Go and chase your dreams, you won’t regret it. Anything can happen, if you let it.
Abbie Cox grew up in Cato, N.Y. on a first-generation dairy farm and currently attends Cornell University as a member of the class of 2021, ma-joring in animal science with a minor in education and a focus in dairy. On campus, she is involved with the Cornell Uni-versity Dairy Science Club, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and is a Peer Adviser with CALS Student Services. Cox has interned with the MILC group, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and is the 2020 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.