Aug. 29 2022 08:08 AM

Everyone always says to get out of your comfort zone; here’s what that was like for me during my summer internship.

I have known since high school that I wanted to utilize my experiences in the dairy industry to communicate the dairy story to others. I saw misinformation being spread online about dairy products and dairy farms, and it really made me want to do something about it. That’s why I am pursuing a career in agricultural communications in hopes of connecting the stories of producers with consumers.

I heard about the Hoard’s Dairyman editorial internship through school and from my Dairy Quiz Bowl coach. It sounded like such an amazing opportunity, to work for this publication I have heard so much about over the years and learn from some of the best communicators in the dairy industry. To my surprise and delight, I got the call to accept the position after sending in my application, writing sample pieces, and interviewing. I thought to myself, “No way, this can’t be real! They actually want me for the job?”

It was daunting. I was scared put my skills out there for thousands and thousands of people to read, and to move across the state of Wisconsin to do it. But then I started to think of how sad I would be if I didn’t give it my all for this opportunity, and that I would regret missing out on it. I’m sure glad I didn’t say no.

Over the course of the summer, I have learned many skills and challenged myself every step of the way. A list of my projects includes:

  • Three farm stories after completing visits
  • Two electronic articles in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel
  • Four Farm Flash pages with six article summaries per page
  • A Young Dairymen feature story
  • Three 2-column articles for the magazine
  • A press release for World Dairy Expo
  • 14 weekly blogs (including this one)
  • The Ayrshire Breeder’s Association (ABA) meeting report
  • A summary of ABA youth activities
  • Interviewing past judging contest winners for an article highlighting the 100th year of the national 4-H judging contest
  • Creating the top 50 dairy cooperatives list and article after collecting member and production information
  • Compiling a summary of 4-year colleges with agricultural and dairy programs

I will always be incredibly thankful for this summer and the lessons I learned, both professionally and personally. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, and it was definitely not easy, but everything I learned made it worth it in the end. I want to thank all my mentors, past and present, who have helped me to reach this point in my education. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

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.