On December 17th, 2021, Lydia Young graduated from SUNY Morrisville with a focus on dairy management and agricultural mechanics. Throughout the summer and fall semester of 2021, Young participated in an internship program with the Nutrient Management Spear Program’s (NMSP) Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project. We sat down with Young to learn about her experiences.
- Lydia grew up on her family’s dairy farm, Whey Street Dairy, in Cuyler NY.
- In her spare time, Lydia enjoys working on her family’s farm and flying planes. She’s on a mission to get her pilot certificate!
- Lydia plans on getting a job in the ag industry, working on a farm. She eventually wants to return to her home farm and become a partner, managing the crop production and mechanical operations.
What attracted you to this internship experience?
I first heard about this internship opportunity from my father. He oversees all the operations of Whey Street Dairy and has worked with the NMSP for many years on past projects. I am very passionate about the agriculture industry and have witnessed all of the hard work my parents have put into our farm. I thought this internship was an excellent opportunity as it is like nothing I have ever done before.
How was the focus of your internship?
I collected and input field and animal data from the past 20 years of farm management into Comet Farm for one of the case study farms in the Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project. This tool is an emission assessment tool created by Colorado State University and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The tool calculates total emissions from both the crop and animal side of the operation. From these numbers I was able to calculate the total carbon emission from this case study farm for a year. I also worked on a biodiversity survey and worked with the Cool Farm Tool, from the Cool Farm Alliance from the UK. This tool is another tool used to estimate the carbon footprint of farms.
What are some things you learned that will help benefit your future career?
I learned that small changes in your practices can change make a difference in the overall balance of emissions on a farm. It’s also critical to keep accurate, detailed records of what was done on each farm in order to track improvements.
What do you want the public to know about this field of work?
Work from the Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators project is critical to help correct the myth that agriculture is the leading cause of carbon emissions. In the 2019 study on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that Agriculture is responsible for 10% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, with transportation, electricity, Industry and Commercial & Residential being responsible for more emissions.
What gives you hope for the future of agriculture?
There are a lot of smart, innovative people working in this ever-changing and growing Industry. The technology available to us today will only continue to grow and change and give us producers more ability to produce feed with fewer inputs. There will always be a need for people who produce high-quality food.
Intern with us!
Join Cornell's Nutrient Management Spear Program and participate in the development of sustainability key performance indicators for the dairy industry of New York State.
Questions? Reach out to Quirine Ketterings
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