It didn't take long for Erin Reynoldson to realize that her flip-flops were not suited for a proper tour of Prairieland Dairy. Luckily, Prairieland Dairy co-owner, Dan Rice, and Jeff Keown, Extension Dairy Specialist from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, who lined up the trip, had plenty of plastic, knee-high foot coverings handy.“I'll remember to wear boots next time,” Reynoldson joked. “We wondered after seeing how clean the dairy was if we were wearing the boots to protect us from the dairy or to protect the dairy from our dirty shoes!”
On October 13, 2010, Reynoldson and a group of students from UNL's Advertising and Public Relations program visited the Firth, Nebraska, dairy farm in hopes of coming away with a better understanding of how to help the Nebraska Dairy Association lure more dairy farmers and farms to the state. Because the group had a very minimal background in farming, the field trip to Prairieland provided the students with the insight necessary to begin formulating a comprehensive creative strategy.
“I imagined I'd see dirty cows rolling around in manure with flies all around them,” remarked junior, Cori Schwabe. “Walking around the dairy farm, I noticed how clean the facilities were. I was very impressed by this. I was also impressed by how much Prairieland recycles. Everything, from water to manure, is recycled.”
The group was able to take an up-close look at the milking process, where and how Prairieland's cows live day-to-day, general dairy maintenance and the impact the farm has on surrounding communities.
“I don't think I ever really understood just how complex the whole process behind running a successful dairy farm is,” said senior, Michael Taylor. “As soon as we got there, it was really easy to see that there were so many different pieces working together to keep everything moving. Dairy farming seems like a process that can't afford to ever come to a complete stop.”
It may not be the only field trip the group takes to a Cornhusker State dairy farm.
Schwabe made it clear that the group still has much to learn: “We need to see as much as we can. Dairy farming is a highly intricate process and I think we'd be able to learn something new about the process at every dairy farm in the state. Hopefully, having a firm grasp on how dairy farming in Nebraska works will help us understand just why a dairy farmer from another state would want to relocate here.” PD
PHOTO: Students attending the tour pause for a photo outside the entrance of Prairieland Dairy. Photo provided by Jeff Keown.