Dairy “COW”reers Day: Lots of career options in dairy field


“Thinking outside of the box.” We use the phrase to refer to a nontraditional idea. Perhaps the exact definition isn’t so important, but we should never underestimate the value of such logic.

Maybe the following 4-H dairy program is an example of an idea created outside of the normal parameters. Dairy “COW”reers Day will be held April 10 at the Ohio 4-H Center in Columbus. It is being developed to assist youth with one of the most important decisions of their life — selecting a career.

Although most youth have a general idea of a future vocation, they could use more time in exploring specific career choices. With that in mind, this program will offer an in-depth view of the dairy industry.

Lots of choices

Pick up a pencil right now and record all the possibilities for career paths that include dairying. With some focus, it does not take long to fill a page. Yet, some youth are very unaware of many of these.

It is true that some know exactly what they would like to do in life, and yet others search for the right fit.

The best example of this is a young lady who came to campus with absolutely no thought of pursuing a career in the dairy industry. She had not been around cows until a dairy internship provided her the environment to test her interests. Talk about “thinking outside of the box!”

Perhaps we have a responsibility to provide her and our more traditional dairy enthusiasts with the element of discovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that people will make major career changes three to five times in their lifetime.

Encouraging this generation to share a portion of their potential in our business is one of the major goals of the Dairy “COW”reers event.

Real world stories

In 2009, the image of the dairy industry was challenged on every level and dairy farming was listed as one of the five worst occupations on a popular career web page. Could there be a better time to tell the ” rest of the story?”

Dairy “COW”reers Day will offer youth a realistic glimpse into what we do. In a job fair atmosphere, dairy professionals from all over Ohio, will set up their displays to educate our participants about dairy nutrition, teaching, evaluating and marketing purebred dairy animals, large animal veterinary practices, dairy publications and communications, government positions, owner operators, and many more.

Letters of invitation have already been sent to many businesses. Not only will they come to share professional insights, but also stories of their personal career journeys and sage advice for the next generation.


Beyond browsing through displays and speaking with key leaders, workshops on timely topics will be offered in the morning. Youth can select to attend those that interest them.

For example, learn how a dairy publication is assembled, discover the many methods of dairy social networking, and hear how the OSU Department of Animal Sciences can provide information and guidance related to these career interests.

After a busy morning spent networking and in workshops, American Dairy Association Mideast and the Ohio Dairy Producers Association will treat everyone to lunch.

The afternoon program will include a panel of industry professionals who will outline their dairy careers and also answer questions from the audience.

This will be followed by updates on the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

There is no registration fee for the program. The day is an investment in the future of the dairy industry. If you would like to attend, a registration form will be available on the Calendar of Events page at www.4hansci.osu.edu/dairy.

For any businesses that would like to be included, please contact me at ayars.5@osu.edu.

Meanwhile, don’t forget about our more traditional events: March 20, Dairy Judging Clinic, Columbus; and March 27, State 4-H Dairy Contest at Spring Dairy Expo.


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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