Cover Story Feature in June 2020 MilkLine

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the beloved Harry Potter book series, and its sentiment is particularly true during these current times. I’m sure there’s a group of people in this world that have found a great amount of happiness from social distancing and being able to stay home with their family. To think a pandemic had to happen for so many to reap this simple pleasure! Yet, for many others, this pandemic is causing a great deal of disappointment. As I write this, more county and state fair cancellations come across my newsfeed. 

It is hard to be happy right now. 

My heart breaks for the many kids (and the kids at heart) that look forward to their summers spent preparing fair projects for the county fair. I spent many of my summers working to lead my chosen cows and heifers in addition to mastering some sewing project or woodworking that was a bit beyond my current skillset. They were all something I spent a lot of time working on, looking forward to the day I could present it to a judge so it could be awarded a ribbon. I can only imagine the sadness that these kids and leaders have right now.

So many fairs and shows have been canceled in addition to so many June Dairy Month Breakfast events and celebrations. If the event includes a large gathering, you can bet that it’s either canceled or stripped down to accommodate the latest Center for Disease Control guidelines. Summer calendars that were easily counted on for being full are now wide open and empty. 

However, it is still summer. And summer means beautiful weather and an opportunity to do things we can’t do other times of the year. This can still be a special season, regardless of how our social calendars currently look. Despite the limitations that COVID-19 has created, it should not also steal our happiness.

I challenge you to find happiness in all of this. I challenge you to instead of fumbling in this darkness and sadness, to turn on a light. 

Turning on a light may take some creativity, but in this day and age of technology at our fingertips, I hope that county 4-H and FFA groups can create a way to have fair projects judged and virtually displayed. I would hope that even livestock shows could take on a similar format. 

As for dairy promotion events, that too can still take place thanks to technology and social media. Several county dairy promotional groups are hosting drive-through dairy breakfasts and building ‘breakfast kits’ complete with maple syrup, pancake mix, eggs, milk and cheese with virtual farm tours available on websites. If you or your farm has a social media page, there are endless resources, recipes and virtual tours to share and promote. If you don’t utilize social media, now may be a great time to dive in. 

Promoting dairy doesn’t have to be limited to large public events either. I plan bringing a cheese board featuring new cheese flavors paired with fresh strawberries and grilled peaches to my next small group gathering. Some of my friends that are further removed from agriculture will get to hear me rave about the farmers that produce these quality dairy products, the quality care their animals receive, and how their dairy farm business helps the local economy thrive. I’ll be sure to try three new dairy-focused recipes and buy an extra gallon of ice cream before the month is over. As the Director of Communications here at FarmFirst, I’ll be ramping up my promotion efforts across our social media platforms and I’ll seek out opportunities to share dairy’s story with a general consumer audience. 

We are experiencing some tough times right now, but I believe in making the best of it. Spread joy and find happiness. Choose to turn on the light.