Midwest Dairy, a dairy checkoff promotion organization representing 5,800 dairy farm families across a 10-state region, is offering numerous opportunities specific to dairy farmers for leadership development.
One of the key objectives of the organization is developing farm and community leaders for dairy, so these multiple opportunities fall into that category:
Nebraska Dairy Ambassador Program. The program is for college-age dairy farmers and advocates. Program participants receive college scholarships for their efforts and spend a year representing dairy farmers at feature events.
The program was founded at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016, and so far, 27 Nebraska college students have participated. In 2018, this program began partnering with Midwest Dairy, and it is now offered in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Illinois, as well as Nebraska.
This year’s Nebraska ambassadors include Abigail Langdon, Clarkson, who is a sophomore agribusiness major with a banking and finance option at UNL; Whitney Hochstein, Wynot, who is a freshman graphic design and entrepreneurship major with a minor in foods and nutrition at Wayne State College; Faith Junck, Carroll, who is a freshman agricultural and environmental science communications major at UNL; Claudia Leubner, Marietta, N.Y., who is a freshman agribusiness major at UNL; and Jordan Wilbur, Kenesaw, who is a senior ag education major with a leadership option at UNL.
Board leadership. Board leadership is made up of dairy farmers who represent Midwest Dairy as producers work together to build trust and demand in dairy. Opportunities include state (Midwest Dairy, Nebraska Division), corporate (Midwest Dairy) and national (Dairy Management Inc.) levels.
Dairy Experience and Agricultural Leadership Program. This 18-month program provides young dairy farmers younger than age 40 across the 10-state region with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the dairy checkoff, while strengthening skills for engaging with consumers, learning how to conduct media interviews and networking with industry professionals and peers. Nebraska’s current DEAL participants include Heath Snodgrass and Carie Murman.
Engage workshop. The Engage workshop is licensed to Midwest Dairy through the Center for Food Integrity. This workshop helps producers have conversations that build trust in dairy. It equips our dairy farmers and advocates with the skills to connect with consumers using shared values to build that trust. Plans are underway for a fall Engage workshop.
Nebraska LEAD. Nebraska LEAD and other leadership program participants in the dairy industry can be supported through scholarship dollars. The LEAD program is recognized both statewide and nationally as an innovative program that has improved Nebraska in many ways and could have a positive impact for our state’s dairy farmers. For more details on the LEAD application process, visit lead.unl.edu. The application deadline is June 15.
Behnken is the Nebraska Division farmer relations and communications manager with Midwest Dairy.