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Wisconsin Holstein Young Adult Members Katie Kearns - Traveling the World with Dairy Cattle There are many roads leading to where you want to go, and everyone’s path is a little different. WHA member Katie Kearns has traveled extensively since college and has worked with some of the world’s most well-known cows. We recently asked Katie about her travels and the opportunities she’s had over the last decade - all because of her love for dairy cattle. 1. Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and what helped you develop your interest in dairy? I grew up on my family dairy farm in Southwest Wisconsin near Seneca. Currently, my parents, Tom and Beth, own and operate a 130 cow dairy farm with a parlor and freestall barn. While I was growing up and living at home we milked 70 cows in a tiestall barn. Hard work day in and day out was a lifestyle for us and something that was never questioned. I grew up working daily with four siblings - Matt, Ben, Jason and Sarah. We were constantly trying to beat our records of how fast we could unload and stack a load of hay. There was always an aggressive and competitive work ethic amongst myself and my siblings. My main duties included milking, feeding and daily cow care. From a young age I loved being in the barn around the cows. 2. What was your first “big” opportunity and how did that come about? My first of many big opportunities happened during my first year of college. During my high school years I worked as a tour guide at an old historical home called the Villa Louis. One of my coworkers knew I was going to be attending UW-Platteville in the fall and her brother-in-law had a farm in Darlington and was looking for some help. So that fall I went to the farm, Random Luck and met Rick “RT” Thompson. I started working for him that day and continued to help him through my four years of college. RT taught me many things about cows. I did a lot of milking, feeding, clipping and show preparation there. Observing how RT handled cows and hearing his thought process of how he broke down situations - whether it regarded a cow’s health, diet or even show situation - taught me more than any book ever has. He also really sparked my “show bug” into overdrive, as he gave me many opportunities to go to the shows with him. The connections I made and the people I met through RT gave me a hunger to do more showing and traveling at the highest level possible. Ernie Keuffner and Terri Packard have also given me numerous opportunities in this industry. I first started to work for them when I was a summer intern at Arethusa Farm in 2008 and they were my managers. I accepted a full-time job with Arethusa in 2009 and during the next three years there they taught me about dealing with high caliber cattle on an everyday basis. I learned how many small things go into making a farm like Arethusa run everyday at such a high level. Dealing with employee scheduling, employee problems, interns, feed and supply ordering and all of the other small details was something I learned to take responsibility for. They both pushed me to always strive to be better every day. I’m grateful for the influence they had on my career at a young age and I still enjoy working with them to this day. 3. Where have you traveled to work with dairy animals? What was your favorite place or country? I started doing internships while I was in college and used that as a way to travel and learn as much as possible. Ocean View Farms in

California, Pineland Farms in Maine and Arethusa Farms in Connecticut were my favorite internships. I started to travel abroad to work with dairy cattle after I finished working full-time at Arethusa Farm. I spent five months in Australia at Bluechip Genetics with Dean and Dianna Malcolm. I was able to attend International Dairy Week and the Sydney Royal during my time with them and also help with one of their sales. Since my original trip there in 2013 I have traveled back to Australia four more times to help with shows and spend time with friends there - who have really become an extended family to me. I also spent two years working in Quebec at Gen-Com Holsteins. Learning how to work with people that speak different languages was a big part of those two years. The friendships that I gained in Quebec are life long. Recently I had the opportunity to spend four months in Spain at Ponderosa Holsteins helping to prepare their cows for the European Championship Show which was held in June in Colmar, France. My time in Spain was absolutely amazing - the food, the scenery and the people were outstanding. The crowning jewel of my time spent there was seeing Ponderosa’s cow, Ashlyn Vray, being tapped as Reserve Grand Champion of the European Show. 4. Who is your favorite cow that you’ve worked with? I don’t know if it is possible for me to pick one favorite cow, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many incredible cows. There are three cows that come to mind when I think of the really special ones - Veronica, Hailey and Ashlyn Vray. All three were incredibly smart cows to work with. They all seemed to “know” what was going on. Their accomplishments in the show ring have created so many special memories for all who have been lucky enough to work with them. They were/are household names and the crowds they would attract at a show proved it. They all carried and presented themselves with a special air - and you just knew you were the lucky one to be included in their stories. 5. Do you have any tips for juniors that may want to follow a similar path? My motto has always been to go for it. Whether it’s a new job you want, a trip you wanted to take or any other opportunities that arise - take them. You won’t regret it. Every opportunity you take leads to more opportunities and more adventures. The people you will meet, the places you will go and the things you will learn can never be replaced. But they only happen if you are willing to go for it. So take the trip, find the new job or internship, leave home, challenge yourself and embrace every opportunity that comes your way as a result of putting yourself out there. It’s always worth it.

wisconsin HOLSTEIN news/December 2016-23

December 2016 Wisconsin Holstein News  

December 2016 issue of the Wisconsin Holstein News featuring YDJM and 12 & Under Award Winners, Student Roundtable and District 6.

December 2016 Wisconsin Holstein News  

December 2016 issue of the Wisconsin Holstein News featuring YDJM and 12 & Under Award Winners, Student Roundtable and District 6.

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