When you picture a Wisconsin barn, what does it look like? They come in all different shapes and sizes across our state. From the red barn at your grandpa’s farm, to your uncle’s 1,000 cow dairy, there is a place for all in Wisconsin agriculture. My barn didn’t look the same as most of my peers. My barn ranged from physical structures to a state of mind.
My sister told me that you have to be irrationally in love with it to want to do it. You have to be so invested in what you love that even after you lose, you want to keep going. That kind of passion is born in a barn.
My first barn sat on County Road A near Juneau, Wisconsin. My earliest memories include playing in the grain wheelbarrow, naming pasture grasses, and milking my first cow with the help of my dad.
My parents raised their five kids as farm kids even after we left the farm. We learned to be responsible, honest, hardworking, and committed through 4-H projects and activities.
My barn took on a new shape after my family transitioned away from the farm. I made myself at home in the barns of generous family friends and 4-H leaders who mentored me and fostered my passion for agriculture. These impactful individuals helped me to find my niche in agriculture, even though I was not directly involved in food production.
My most impressionable barn was the dairy barn at the Rock County 4-H fair. For one week every summer, I got to be a farm kid. In the weeks leading up to the fair, I was responsible for the care of my dairy project animals. I got to experience our diverse and modern industry first hand through 4-H events and contests. My knowledge and enthusiasm for Wisconsin agriculture truly grew within the gates of the fair grounds.
Once I started college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my agriculture experiences involved barns across the state and country. My involvement in various campus organizations allowed me to share my barn as an advocate for Wisconsin’s diverse $104.3 billion agriculture industry. I took advantage of every opportunity to pair my classroom learning with hands-on applications through campus organizations and contests.
My barn has taken on many different forms since that red barn on County Road A from so long ago. Today, my barn is full of friendly farmers, caring neighbors, and helpful mentors.
Your barn might look different, too. Whether it be a physical structure or state of mind, we all play a part in agriculture. What does your barn look like?