Last week I had the opportunity to attend the PDPW (Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin) conference in Madison, WI. This was my first time attending the conference, but not my first experience with PDPW. My first experience came back in January 2005 when my husband and I were participating the WI Jaycee's Outstanding Young Farmer program. PDPW put on a workshop about speaking up for agriculture. At that time I was employeed full time as a high school vo-ag teacher and FFA advisor, pregnant with son #2, and helping my husband on the farm. Sure I kept what I learned in the back of my mind, but my life was too busy to really put it into practice. Then 4 years ago I took a job teaching at Southwest Tech in their Dairy Herd and Agribusiness programs. Because of my involvement in Farm Bureau I wanted to include a lesson on professional organizations in the dairy industry. I invited PDPW into speak and learned about their mentorship program for college students. Over the past few years a few students have partcipated in the mentorship program and told me how much they learned at the conference. Even my co-workers spoke highly of the event. This year everything fell into place allowing me to attend.
I started the conference by attending a workshop on how to stay profitable in volatile times. A professor from Cornell University in NY spoke, and he brought with him 2 NY dairy farmers to share about their farms. Next I listened to dairy farmers from Mexico, New Zealand, and England share about dairy farming in other countries. That was followed by Lance Fox, a vet who climbed Mt. Everest. Then it was off to a workshop on dairy stockmanship. In between I caught up with friends in the Hall of Ideas and gathered resources for the calf barn we are planning to build. I had to leave early to get home for a customer appreciation meal sponsored by our feed mill.
This was a great opportunity to network, gather new ideas, set goals for our farm, and bring back things to share with my students. If you are looking to do the same, I highly suggest you check out PDPW. Next year I hope to take in more of the conference, and maybe I'll get my husband to go with. I think maybe I should dust off my notes from that first experience with PDPW and start speaking up for agriculture more.