Dairyman Brett Leyendekker of Tulare, California, is combining his love of dairy and his love for film to tell agricultural stories to help consumers see the industry more clearly.
Leyendekker grew up on a family dairy farm in Tulare, California, learning about the dairy industry through the time-honored tradition of chores.
Since finishing school at Dordt College in Iowa, Leyendekker has worked full-time at the home dairy, Holstein Farms, that now includes 2,800 cows and more than 500 acres of farmland. Leyendekker has also recently been elected as an alternate member of the California Milk Advisory Board.
Filmmaking has been a longtime hobby for Leyendekker. He was self-taught through high school, learning through trial and error. When he went to school at Dordt College in Iowa, he became the first student to receive degrees in agribusiness and digital media productions at the same time.
Leyendekker said, “Since I already had a solid agricultural background from my childhood years, I allowed myself the chance and time to let my passion for film production develop during my college years.”
Today, Leyendekker spends his days as a herdsman on his family dairy managing data collection in various areas including hospital, feed and heat-detection programs. He also uses his college experiences to take care of PR and marketing opportunities.
However, the evenings are often spent editing video and working on various film projects.
“Work on the dairy comes first, but if necessary, my boss and father will allow me to take some time off work to film. For example, last summer I took one morning off to go up in a helicopter and capture aerial footage of the San Joaquin Valley for the promotional piece I was doing for Sierra Desert Breeders,” he said.
While Leyendekker had been producing videos on various subjects from weddings to sports clips since high school, he especially enjoys using film to tell agricultural stories. One project, a virtual tour of Sioux County agriculture, has been distributed to local schools as well as overseas in Germany and China.
Leyendekker has also made a documentary highlighting Midwest agriculture between the 1920s and 50s. This video is currently being sold through the Dordt College bookstore.
Leyendekker loves the stories from the transition from horse-drawn equipment to tractors and electricity and tracing the impact of this time on modern agriculture.
His current project is a piece for the 2014 World Ag Expo film competition entitled “Feeding Tomorrow’s World.”
With video more accessible and easy to use than ever, Leyendekker recommends that those with an ag story to share speak out.
“Rather than fight against anti-ag groups and organizations, let’s start back from the beginning by being transparent and providing information about what an average, environmentally friendly producer does on a daily basis.”
As those in the dairy industry use different mediums including film to spread pro-agricultural messages, consumers will be better able to see why the industry is proud to dairy. PTD
Visit Leyendekker's profile to see his work and learn more about his skills.