He’s one of the most passionate people I know. There’s a fire in his belly and desire that drives him to do the things to be successful that others won’t.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen was a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

In his eyes, there’s an excitement. In his voice, a contagious energy.

To get to be in his presence is a gift because he reminds you just how exciting life can be if you pursue the things that set your heart aflame.

He keeps me on my toes and renews my purpose as a leader, pushing me to want to be better and grow in my own capabilities.

Sometimes I forget he is only 10 years old.


For the past few years, I’ve been coaching a young man named Evan in dairy quiz bowl. Since day one, he’s been a sponge, soaking up every bit of dairy knowledge he can get his hands on. His wide grin and the little glasses perched on his nose give him an unassuming look, but put a dairy quiz bowl buzzer in his hands, and it’s game time.

Every chance he gets, Evan is studying the dairy-related question packets I give him in preparation for the next quiz bowl contest. And when those run out, he’s Google-searching for more. He even told me how he sneaks his study sheets into school and reads them during class instead of listening to his teacher. (Don’t tell his parents.)

That intense drive and deep interest is how I have always defined the word “passion.” Do you define it that way, too? We talk often and openly about our “passion” for our work in the dairy industry and farming. We describe our interest in agriculture as “passion.” But recently, I heard a dairy producer share the more true definition of the common nomenclature. Turns out, this editor had it all wrong.

There we were, on a stage at the Global Dairy Expo last December in Las Vegas. I was moderating a panel of top producers, and among them was Lyle Grimm, the building and construction manager at Riverview LLP. He shared the mission statement of the Minnesota-based dairy and diversified agriculture enterprise: “Providing a culture of opportunity for passionate people and innovative ideas.”

Lyle went on to explain, “A lot of people think of passion as being excited about what they are doing, having a lot of energy to get the job done … but the other definition of passion is suffering.

“It’s being willing to do the hard things and go through hard times, as well as being excited about the good times.”

Lyle’s words stuck with me that day. So much that I looked up the word “passion” for myself, only to find his use of the word was much more accurate than my own had been. According to its origins, passion really does mean suffering. There’s a good chance you’ll be reading this article right before or after the time when we remember the most profound suffering known to mankind: the Passion of Jesus, the period of time leading up to his death. But we also know what happened after the suffering was complete: a glorious resurrection. A rebirth. The greatest demonstration of love.

Can you think of a time when suffering has been part of your own passion, yet it produced a joyous outcome? As dairy farmers, you are no strangers to challenge and adversity. Yet, like a 10-year-old dairy bowl prodigy, you keep pushing, pursuing and persevering because that desire in your heart is greater than the limitations of your mind.

There may be discomfort in the process, but be assured, my friends – there is a greater purpose in your passion.