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By Caroline Lafferty ’23
  • Animal Science
  • Agriculture
  • Dairy
  • Animals
I am a freshman (class of 2023) here at Cornell in the animal science major with a concentration in dairy management. I’m from Schodack Landing, New York which is located in the northern region of the Hudson Valley. Over the years, I have had numerous experiences working on different farms. I have worked on three different dairy farms and a sheep farm as well. At each farm, I was responsible for a different range of chores. I had the opportunity to care for animals, work with others involved in the industry, work with the crops aspect and more. I have also had experience working in a small animal veterinary practice for just under a year as a veterinary and kennel assistant. At the vet practice, I worked with veterinary professionals, caring for cats and dogs, assisting with animal holds for treatment and more. At Cornell, I am a member of the Cornell University Dairy Science Club (CUDS), Cornell Collegiate Farm Bureau and Sigma Alpha Sorority. I am a member of Columbia County 4-H, American Jersey Cattle Association, and the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association. I have won numerous academic awards, agricultural scholarships and project awards through 4-H.

What is your connection to dairy farming?

I have been connected to dairy farming since I was born. My dad worked on the dairy right around the corner from my house, Dutch Hollow Farm. My mom also had cows at the farm and worked weekends there before I was born. My grandfather also worked on the farm. As young kids, my brothers and I would spend all of our free time hanging around with our dad and grandpa as they worked. As I got older, I began spending more time with the cows, heifers and calves, as I found I was particularly interested in the animals. Over the past few years, I started and expanded upon a herd of my own. I credit the Chittenden family with allowing me to develop and strengthen my interest in jersey cows, cows in general and the dairy industry.

Why is it important to you to pursue a career in the industry?

It is important for me to pursue a career in the dairy industry because it has helped to shape me into the person I have am today. While working in the industry, I have been introduced to a network of people who are among the best people I have ever met. It has given me a true passion and livelihood that I couldn’t imagine not being a part of. I am excited to continue developing my passion and opportunities and to further the industry for the next generation of dairy farmers.

Do you plan to intern with Chobani? If so, what will you be doing? What do you hope to gain from that experience?

As of right now, I am open to the idea of interning for Chobani, but have to look into what internship areas they have available. I would prefer to work on one of the dairy farms that supplies Chobani or to work with the farmers directly in some way. Through the internship, I would hope to gain alternative perspectives about working in the dairy industry and possibly additional connections. I would like to learn about the different methods of production and gain some experience with or insights into marketing and farmer-consumer relations.

What do you think is important for others to know about the dairy industry?

I think it is important for people to realize how important dairy farms are to our food industry and how important family farms are. Those involved in the dairy industry are because they love the industry and want to be a part of it. Those involved are more passionate about their work and the animals than themselves. All of the decisions made in dairy are made with the best of intentions for the animals.

Ultimately, I think it is important for the dairy industry to be more transparent with consumers so that consumers feel safer purchasing dairy products. If we can more clearly explain where dairy products come from and how they are produced, I believe it will help consumers trust our industry more. There are many misconceptions around the dairy industry, so an open line of communication is crucial.

How has CALS shaped your understanding of animal science/dairy management?

Since joining CALS, I have met with and learned from many different professors and fellow classmates. As a result of these interactions, my various perspectives on the dairy industry have grown significantly. I am from a small town with a limited number of people involved in the industry, so arriving on a large campus with a whole new network of dairy professionals has greatly impacted my understanding of the industry. I enjoy talking with other students and professors not only about my ideas for the industry, but also theirs.

Header image: Caroline Lafferty ’23  Photo by Allison Usavage

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