Aug. 15 2022 08:00 AM

Picking a college was tricky for me, but I knew exactly what club I wanted to join once I got there.

My search for a college my senior year of high school was not simple. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to potentially study, where I wanted to be, and what I wanted out of my time in college. An unexpected factor in making my decision was the opportunity to be a part of a dairy club, and more specifically, the Gopher Dairy Club at the University of Minnesota.

The Gopher Dairy Club helped me learn more about “The U,” and made me realize that this group would help me find friends and a home on campus. From my very first meeting, I knew this was the right place to be. Everyone was so kind, and we all shared a love for dairy cattle or the dairy industry, no matter if we were from a farm or not.

Our club stays busy throughout the year! The school year starts off with the alumni reunion at the Minnesota State Fair, a couple weeks before our first meeting held the first week of school. We have monthly meetings to discuss upcoming events and encourage other members to participate. Each semester, we prepare for and run dairy judging contests for FFA members, in the fall we have a networking event for members, and social events occur each semester. Past activities include a Minnesota Twins game and a tour of Redhead Creamery.

This year was particularly busy for me, as I became the club’s reporter and the senior co-chair for Gopher Dairy Camp. I spent most of the school year planning for the camp that was hosted on campus in June. To learn more about that event, visit my blog titled “Bringing young dairy enthusiasts to campus.” It was not an easy task re-learning how to plan an in-person camp, after a cancellation in 2020 and hosting a virtual camp for 2021.

At the end of a member’s time in the club, if they have completed all their membership requirements, they are invited on an all-expenses paid trip to California to visit dairies and other fun activities. It’s finally my time to go on this trip in January!

One of my favorite events is working at the Gopher Dairy Bar at the Minnesota State Fair. This one event is when we do all our fundraising for the club. Our shake flavors this year are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and orange dreamsicle. It is such a fun time to talk with fairgoers about who we are, the dairy industry, and of course, whether or not they would like multiple flavors in their milkshake!

Throughout the year, our club shares our accomplishments and events through our website, social media pages, and our yearbook, which is titled, The Topline.

I will forever cherish my time in this club. It has brought me amazing memories, lifelong friends, and skills I might not have otherwise developed. Even if your major is not dairy science or animal science – I’m an ag communications major – you should still join your school’s dairy club. It could change your life!

Mikayla Peper

Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper is serving as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.