Written by Craig Rogan, Nicolet National Bank
June is the month that highlights the great dairy farms we have with the many June Dairy Breakfasts hosted around our beautiful state. It is a chance to see what dairy is all about with a meal, an onsite visit, and tour a farm. Some communities were not able to hold an event on a farm and used their local county fairgrounds as an alternative. My family and I were able to volunteer and enjoy the Portage County June Dairy Breakfast at LaVerne & Cynthia Lepak’s Farm and are looking forward to volunteering and attending Flyte Family Farms June Dairy Breakfast in Waushara County. The breakfast often consists of breakfast staples like pancakes, eggs, cheese curds, sausage, and milk, but the highlight is ending the meal with delicious ice cream.
Growing up in Central Wisconsin, my family grew ginseng in Marathon County. My dad also sheered sheep throughout the state of Wisconsin and into Michigan. Several other extended family members had dairy farms that we would go to and help harvest hay. I had many opportunities to be on farms and have many fond memories picking weeds, berries roots, sheering sheep, and being up in the hay mow -despite it feeling like it was 110 degrees up there.
Through my employment as an agricultural lender, my children are getting many of the same opportunities I once had to experience being on farms. But for many children, the June dairy breakfast is their only opportunity to set foot on a farm and see cows, calves, steers, feed, farm equipment, free stall barns, parlors, and robots up close as opposed to only seeing it from a car window while driving by. This real-life exposure is why the tradition of the June Dairy Breakfast continues to be so important to the dairy industry.
The children stepping foot on these farms every June are truly the future of farming. That hay wagon full of kids is carrying the next farm equipment mechanic, the next agronomist, the next large animal vet or even the next farmer. Ever-changing technology in the dairy industry assists farms with milking, herd health, cropping and more. Present day farming is certainly a unique blend of the past, present, and future.
With this generation constantly immersed in technology, it is even more important to step away from the devices, get outside and enjoy being with nature. The root of farming is truly working hard, being resilient when times are tough, and celebrating the successes as they come. If you are ever looking for ideas to get children or yourself exposed to the outdoors, I would suggest reading Outdoor Kids in an Inside World by Steven Rinella.
Hopefully everybody was able to enjoy a June dairy breakfast in your area. My family and I are already excited to learn what farm it takes us to next year!
Craig Rogan is vice president, agricultural banking officer with Nicolet National Bank in Stevens Point and also currently serves as the Vice Chair of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board.