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To celebrate the start of Agriculture Month, we start with a guest post by one of our Dairy Ambassadors, Ashley Binder. Ashley is a city girl from Carmel, Indiana, who nevertheless found her passion in studying dairy and hopes to work in dairy or agriculture upon graduation.

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by Ashley Binder, Dairy Ambassador

As a little girl, I loved animals so much, especially dogs, and quickly decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’m sure this future career goal was similar to many other young girls, but I grew up in a family that was constantly travelling for various sports or vacations, so we never actually had any pets. I stuck with this career goal throughout my school years, always assuming I would end up at Purdue because of the well-known vet school.

After being accepted to Purdue, I visited the university for the first time and started to learn more about what exactly becoming a veterinarian would entail, which got me really thinking about if that’s really what I wanted to pursue. I started in the Fall with my major being Animal Sciences-Prevet, and after a few weeks decided to switch to the Production concentration simply because it seemed like the next best option to actually get to work with animals.

Late in the Spring semester, I was walking on campus and saw some people in cow costumes shouting that they had some calves to pet and were handing out free grilled cheese and milk, which of course drew me in! I’m not completely sure why, but after spending just a few minutes talking with some of the Dairy Club members about dairy in general and about the club, I decided that I wanted to join at the beginning of the next school year.

Upon starting my next school year, I did what I said I wanted to do, and joined the Dairy Club. I only knew a few people in the club at the time, so I really only got involved by attending the meetings and helping with the few on campus events. Eventually, the club had a speaker come to one of the meetings and talk about something called the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium. I really did not have any dairy experience, so my friend encouraged me to apply for this 6-week summer program, which I did, and soon found out that I had been accepted. This Consortium took place in New Mexico, which made me slightly nervous, but luckily two other Purdue students had also been accepted, so I wasn’t completely alone.

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At the USDETC, I was lucky to meet 50 students from 10 other states who share an interest in dairy, learn from top dairy professors from around the country about various important aspects of the industry, and network with some companies that support the dairy industry. This program gave me a lot of hands on experience with cows and really solidified that these are the animals I really enjoy working with.

After that, I became more involved in the Dairy Club, and really enjoyed sharing information about cows and dairy products to friends and family. Having grown up in a large suburb of Indianapolis, many of my closest friends and family members didn’t know much about the dairy industry, or even agriculture at all. Unfortunately, their biggest source of knowledge on those topics came from videos or articles that they found on social media, which we all know can be a far stretch from the truth. Being an advocate to my family led me to apply and to become a Dairy Ambassador with the American Dairy Association Indiana. I was thrilled to receive an Ambassador position because I want to promote the industry and share knowledge with the general public, including my own relatives, who may be misinformed or uninformed about the treatment of animals or final products in the dairy industry. I hope to obtain a full-time job in the dairy industry upon graduation, and I plan to continue promoting the industry regardless of what career path I take.