The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) organization recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. At their conference in March, they recognized people who have been involved in the organization since the beginning. Bringing all of these people together in the same place was really special. The knowledge I have gained over the years from my peers at PDPW has helped shape my mindset as a dairy farmer and business person.
PDPW is a professional development organization for the dairy community. It was founded in 1992 with only a handful of farmers. Today, it has grown to a network of over 1,600 members who represent every type and size of dairy farm. The organization is focused on helping today’s dairy farmers build financially fit, socially acceptable and sustainable businesses.
When I came back to the farm after being a nutritionist, I started going to some PDPW meetings and getting involved with the organization. The dairy industry was changing at the time, moving toward more of a business culture. Being a part of PDPW at such a young age was one of the first steps I took toward building relationships with other farmers and investing in my professional development as a dairy farmer. A few years after getting involved with PDPW, I was on the Board of Directors. I was really fortunate to be on the board at such a young age. I was sitting beside good people I really looked up to, and were well into their careers. They were progressive famers, and I really fed off of their excitement and ideas.
Being a part of PDPW helped me build relationships within the dairy community, many of which I still have today. I also learned how to work with people in the township and community surrounding our farm. Instead of focusing only on my family’s farm, I started looking at the system as a whole. We’re an integral part of the cheese plant where our milk goes. What we do on the farm directly impacts them and vice versa. Our decisions also impact our community members. It’s important to be aware of the whole structure.
Even after being a part of the organization for so many years, I am constantly learning new things when I attend their conferences, whether I’m sitting in the audience or am one of the speakers.