When Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) launched the Wisconsin Dairy Athlete of the Month program in 2023, we knew there was an important connection between the hard work happening on family farms and the perseverance, commitment, and integrity youth show within high school sports. The hard work and dedication these students are learning on the farm translates to the determination it takes to achieve success in athletics. What our partnership with Wisconsin Sports Network (WSN) also reveals is a deep and genuine excitement across local communities to celebrate exceptional student-athletes in America’s Dairyland.

That enthusiasm has fueled the program's growth. Instead of highlighting one Wisconsin Dairy Athlete of the Month, we’ve expanded to two — ensuring equal representation for female and male players. Through our partnership with WisSports.net, these positive dairy stories are showcased to the millions of consumers who trust WisSports.net for high school sports schedules, athlete and team statistics, state rankings, and much more.

Other news networks and media outlets also joined in telling our standout students’ stories, including in online spots streamed by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association during the state championships. Pickups from hometown newspapers and added excitement around featured student athletes on social media expand our reach and amplify our message, too. These student recognition posts are garnering incredible attention and are some of the most liked, shared, and commented on in our Facebook community. Such well-aligned opportunities provide an even bigger platform to promote players’ connections with the dairy industry.

Nominees demonstrate dairy farmer values

So far, the DFW team has fielded well over 50 unique nominations from athletic directors, coaches, family members, FFA leaders, and fans. These varsity athletes often care for animals and check off their chores before sunrise. They take on academic challenges in the classroom, and train and compete — often in multiple sports. All share dairy industry ties, while some are headed to play at NCAA Division I schools in the fall and others have a different focus and embrace a variety of extracurriculars.

Each of the rising stars we’ve selected as Wisconsin Dairy Athlete of the Month juggles schoolwork, farm responsibilities, and team commitments. Here are a couple recent examples:

Ashley Brandel of Lake Mills, Wis., a basketball player and fifth-generation dairy farmer, balances hoops and Holsteins. Her hobbies center on being in the barn, raising calves, and building pedigrees. Straussdale Holsteins, which is owned and operated by her extended family, ships milk to Dairy Farmers of America, where it is made into Kraft cream cheese.

And, although Pepin High School multi-sport athlete Demetrius Bergmann didn’t grow up on a dairy farm, he says his job with Dusek Family Farm influences his performance as a wrestler, football running back/inside linebacker, basketball player, and 4x state qualifier in track. Bergmann’s farm work includes milking cows and muscle-building tasks like cleaning out barns, spreading manure, maintaining equipment, and hauling in loads while chopping.

Read more about our honorees and nominate a high school student for Wisconsin Dairy Athlete of the Month here.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
February 15, 2024
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