June 24 2019 09:55 AM

Dairy cattle at root of adventure.

My sense of adventure and travel started at just a few months of age when my parents took me to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It continued when my family and I flew to national Holstein conventions as far away as New York and South Carolina. We made such trips for 10 consecutive summers as my siblings and I competed in various contests. If it was not for the dairy cow, our family would have not seen so much of North America.

The majority of the places I have visited tie to the dairy cow. The 46 states in my rearview have provided me with countless memories and this time of year always leaves me fondly reflecting on these trips. It was 30 years ago that I was named a National Holstein Distinguished Junior (Holstein) Member (DJM). It was a huge honor and a recognition that holds a very special place in my life. This summer will be just the second time I have missed the National Holstein Convention in the past 34 years. That might be surprising since I live in the host state this year. But the dairy cow is taking me far from my home — to Europe for the first time.

There was an international competition held in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the same time. One of the teams that I work with earned an invitation to compete in the dairy judging contest. I jumped at the chance to accompany the group as they participate, learn about European agriculture as part of a tour package, and view historic sites in Ireland, Great Britain, and Scotland.

This is not the first time I have travelled internationally thanks to the achievements of the youth I coach. A few years ago, one of my quiz bowl teams was offered an incredible opportunity to travel to Australia. Our trip included a tour of a dairy and processing facility, as well as sights in Brisbane and Sydney. The highlight was listening to a performance in the world renown Sydney Opera House on Easter Saturday.

While dairy producers rarely get time off these days, my parents can enjoy my adventures vicariously as they were the source of encouragement. I am grateful they took me on that first airplane ride to Canada and opened my eyes to the world of travel. Since then, I have been fortunate to see dairy cattle from Maine to Florida, and from Washington to Texas — and now I will stamp my passport with European countries. My siblings have also enjoyed seeing parts of the world, even if on a limited basis. We have our parents to thank for providing opportunities and encouragement to broaden our view beyond our farm's border.

While I rarely take vacations, the few I have enjoyed began with dairy. Studying as part of my formal education and for dairy knowledge competitions have paid such dividends. And as Dr. Seuss wrote, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Look for a future blog on my summer dairy travels.

Patti Hurtgen

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.