How California Kids Do Dairy


Last week, I had the wonderful privilege of being a guest presenter at an event known as “Cow Camp.” Held by the California Junior Holstein Association, it puts young dairy enthusiasts in a concentrated area to spend a few days learning, growing, and bonding. I happened to be invited to the event as a representative for Know a California Farmer (KACF), but there were some unique challenges. For starters, our normal KACF programs generally run across an entire day. Each Cow Camp session was 45 minutes, meaning I had to trim the message down to a suitable size. Then, there’s the sometimes-awkward question of, “How can we safely teach kids to use the Internet?”

Long story short, my entire involvement was a learning process. I learned through the difficult task of prioritizing information. I also gained valuable experience in tailoring a message to the appropriate audiences. (The groups were split up by age, making it easier to write one presentation for teenagers and one for the younger kids.) I learned about adapting your material on the fly. An audience is a living, breathing, changing entity, and being able to react, gauge, and adapt to it is a must for anyone working in the public light. I learned about feeling comfortable in my own skin.

I learned that California kids find Chicago accents to be incredibly entertaining.

My biggest learning experiences weren’t generated by me, though. Most of my learning happened while I worked with the kids. I was once told by a seasoned business traveller that it was refreshing to see my excitement about things like business trips and fancy meals, because to me it was still new and interesting. I got to see that sort of situation from the other perspective today.

Kids are passionate, driven, and innovative. Seeing what these young Holstein breeders could bring to the table was…refreshing.

After I finished up with most of my obligations, I took some time to observe some of the other sessions being taught during the afternoon. I learned even more stuff, primarily about preparing dairy heifers for shows. My favorite part of my post-session learning experiences?

Heifer haircuts.

That gentleman (I believe his name is Rocco) is teaching kids (who I fondly refer to as "mini farmers") to "fit" cattle for showing...or, give them a haircut. If you look closely, you can see a tiny person between Rocco and the calf.

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