Kelly O’Connell

Graduated May 2018

Unlike many dairy farmers it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I was introduced to dairy farming when a classmate invited me to visit her family farm. The family took me under their wings and taught me all they could about dairy farming, including the financial hardships that all too commonly come with it. Quickly, I fell in love with not just the cows but the dairy farming way of life. These people were dedicated, worked hard, yet struggled financially, and this really bothered me. The following year I entered college at SUNY Cobleskill, choosing Agricultural Business Management as my major, hoping to find some answers and solutions to the financial problems which my friends and many small dairy farms face.Shortly after entering college I learned more about U.S. milk pricing and the various ways dairy farmers can differentiate themselves. My friends had been shipping milk conventionally for a pretty low pay price, yet were farming very closely to the required organic standards, which actually paid a much higher price. I presented this information to my friends, and then helped them successfully through the USDA organic grass-fed certification progress. Upon graduating with my Bachelors I joined the Dairy Grazing Apprentice Program looking not only to gain a broad based hands on farming experience, where I could be fully immersed in each aspect of the farm, but also to learn more about public education. I think it’s important for consumers to be able to see where there food is coming from and to experience farm life, much like I had just a few years ago. Wolfe’s Neck was the perfect place for me to continue not just with my own education, but with educating others as well!I’m one of the dairy team members, getting to not only keep our cows happy and healthy every day, but also being a key member in looking at how to keep our soils and land regenerative for a sustainable future.I love spending time with my family and 2 younger brothers who live in North Carolina! Most of my hobbies include anything that gives me a chance to be outside, hiking, paddle boarding, skiing and horseback riding. My more unique and prominent hobby would be MMA, I spend the majority of my free time training at a local gym. My favorite place to be, other than with cows of course, is in front of my favorite punching bag. The whole dairy team can tell you that if I’m not at the farm or gym, then there’s a pretty good chance I’m at my favorite chicken wing spot!

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