April 24 2023 09:31 AM

These Prairie Farms employees put their skills together to restore a piece of their company’s history.

Distribution manager Teddy Berry and delivery driver Aaron Stark stand with the mascot they and their teammates restored.

As anyone who has trucked cattle can relate to, moving animals is not always the easiest task. For a group of Prairie Farms employees, a recent cattle haul was made more complicated by the fact that their cargo was made of fiberglass and 9 feet tall.

A larger-than-life dairy cow and calf had been in storage at a facility owned by the co-operative in Akron, Ohio, for several years, and last winter, it was decided that the mascots would be more useful out on display to the public. But where should they be housed? Leaders decided on Rockford, Ill., where Prairie Farms has a plant. The co-op was founded in Illinois in 1938, so the move would mean the cows came home to honor the organization’s 85th anniversary.

Thus began the nearly 500-mile journey to move the display. That actually turned out to be the easy part, though, said Teddy Berry, distribution manager at the Rockford facility. After being in storage for so long, the animals and their trailer were in poor condition and badly in need of refinishing.

Berry took the lead on the restoration, which was no simple task as the mascot was scheduled to appear at a grocery store grand opening in a little more than a month after its arrival in Illinois. Instead of waiting to source contractors and outside help, Berry and the Rockford team decided to do the work themselves onsite.

Drivers, mechanics, supervisors, and more pitched in to tear down and completely rebuild the trailer that is the animals’ home base. The cow and calf were also sanded and repainted to look as shiny as new. These employees’ talents were put to use all while continuing their regular plant operations.

“The result of their end-to-end teamwork is a masterfully crafted, top-notch mascot that will serve Prairie Farms for many years to come, and I could not be prouder of Teddy and the Rockford team,” said Prairie Farms’ CEO Matt McClelland.

As for the experience, Berry said it was a lot of fun to complete alongside a dedicated team. They stretched their skills beyond what they do in a normal workday to complete a very unique project.

The mascot will promote Prairie Farms and its more than 600 farm families and 7,000 associates throughout the area, so the co-op is asking for suggestions on what to call the animals. You can submit your creative entries here. The names will be announced at the conclusion of June Dairy Month.

Katelyn Allen

Katelyn Allen joined the Hoard’s Dairyman team as the Publications Editor in August 2019 and is now an associate editor. Katelyn is a 2019 graduate of Virginia Tech, where she majored in dairy science and minored in communication. Katelyn grew up on her family’s registered Holstein dairy, Glen-Toctin Farm, in Jefferson, Md.