I grew up on a 100-cow dairy farm in central Wisconsin with two other siblings, and I’m sure it was to my parent’s utter surprise that all their kids would go on to pursue a career in an agricultural related field.

Looking back on it, my passion for the dairy industry comes solely from the examples of hard work set by my parents and grandparents. My grandfather, a boy from the city streets of New Jersey that had no farming background, started his farming career with the impulse decision to buy a farm in upstate New York. After having nine girls and stopping at child number ten, he finally got his wish of having a son. He found solace in knowing that the Byrne farm and name would live on with it being passed on down to my father, and now to my younger brother.

My parents, who set an exceptional example of what it means to work together as a team, included us kids in the process; they introduced us each to the farm at just a few days old. As we got older, we were assigned chores, and as our age increased, so did the number of responsibilities. As time wore on, it became a routine of working alongside family day in and day out. Fast forward to the age-old question that everyone faces when nearing graduation: “Well, what’s next?” For me it was without doubt that I wanted the dairy industry to be a part of my future.

In my time at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, I was often asked why I decided to pursue a degree in agriculture. Honestly, when I look toward the future and starting my own family, I would like my children to have the same opportunities that I did while growing up on a farm.

The ability to think, create, get dirty, and be outside are some of my best memories. Seeing the circle of life firsthand and understanding that there is a fine line between life and death, and that not everything always has a happy ending, can be one of the hardest things to grasp as a human. The dairy industry is raw and real and will teach you that. The work ethic gained is unmatched, having responsibilities at a young age like feeding calves, helping with planting and harvest seasons, and milking taught me the value of hard work and the reward that comes with it.

At the end of the day, there is a reason that all of us decided to come back to the farm in some way, shape, or form. I attribute that to our upbringing.

Jenna Byrne

Jenna Byrne is an associate editor for Hoard’s Dairyman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2022, majoring in agricultural business with an emphasis in communications and marketing. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm near Neillsville, Wis.