Feb. 6 2023 08:00 AM

As I continue to travel, I learn more about the diverse world of agriculture.

We visited many dairy and beef operations while in Scotland and Ireland.

My journey with agriculture started as a young girl on my neighbors’ dairy farm. As I joined 4-H and FFA, I explored the world of agriculture within my county, and I became more experienced within the dairy industry. As I competed in dairy judging and dairy quiz bowl, I began to wonder what else could I learn about dairy.

This question was answered when my judging team earned a spot on the international judging trip to Scotland and Ireland. We spent almost two weeks visiting dairy farms, and it was like growing up at home all over again! I learned that these farmers shared our mission to provide a nutritious product and care for their land and animals, yet they reached these goals in their own unique ways. Just when I thought there was a system for successful dairy farming, my mind was opened to the possibilities of how culture and geography blend together with agriculture.

While in Greece, my classmates and I learned how to properly prune wine grape plants.
Just when my world got bigger, it quickly shrank as I went off to college after this trip. I made friends with many other like-minded agriculturalists from the Midwest and across the country, but I also got to know more people who had never visited a dairy farm. In fact, I met several people who thought that animal agriculture was the enemy to the future of the population and our planet. I wasn’t completely surprised, as many of these thoughts had been introduced to me through social media, which encouraged me to study agricultural communications. These experiences in college grounded me and reaffirmed my decision to become an agricultural advocate.

To accomplish this goal, my world once again grew bigger as I traveled to Greece and then to California and visited more farms. My understanding of raising livestock and growing crops kept expanding, and I was reminded how agriculture is everywhere and done in so many ways, and this work will continue one way or another.

I am incredibly fortunate to have had these opportunities and more under my belt at such a young age. I will continue to expand my understanding of agriculture as I travel to Argentina in May. I hope as I gain more knowledge about our world, I can continue to connect consumers to agriculture with a global mindset. I also hope to share with producers these experiences that I have had, because just when farmers in my home county in Wisconsin start to feel isolated, I can remind them that they are not alone in their work, even if it may feel like it.

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 served as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.