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HERd management: Agvocate and get abs, too

Rebecca Shaw for Progressive Dairyman Published on 18 January 2016

I had a lot of fun in college. And by fun, I mean club pizza parties and ice cream socials, of course. But then, I had to graduate and it was time to (kind of) grow up.

After graduation, life changed – and so had my body. I realized it was time to focus more on my health. With this in mind, I joined a new gym dedicated to group fitness. Slowly but surely, my health started changing and improving. What I didn’t expect were the new agvocating doors that opened.



Fitness quickly became something I loved. I felt great when I’d leave a workout, and I also began making new friends. However, fitness also came with a dark side … food fads and dieting trends. One was the misconception that dairy products make you “fat” and “unhealthy.”

At first, I didn’t want any part of it. I’m all about seizing any opportunity to support the dairy industry, but I was going to the gym to relieve stress, not to get into a debate. However, a friend at the gym approached me once and said, “When I talk to you, food makes sense. I’m not scared of milk or cheese or any of those dairy products anymore.”

It was then I realized I had just found my new avenue to agvocate. These are several examples of how agvocating and working on getting abs went hand-in-hand for me.

I invited them to like “The Cow Chronicler,” my Facebook page. This was my way of introducing them to who I am and what I love. Or, as my good friends would say, this was giving them a warning they were my next target.

What I’ve found so successful about having a specific Facebook page for agvocating is: It’s a person’s choice to follow it. I’m not forcing my opinions or facts about the dairy industry upon them but rather inviting them to join the conversation. Over the next few weeks, several of the members I invited to like my page came up to me after a workout to ask me more about it and why I started it. This was the entry I needed to begin my story of why we need dairy in our diets.


I talked about chocolate milk during a planking contest. Full disclosure, the number one reason I will do planks during a workout is for pizza with pineapple and bacon on it. But at the gym, I stick to talking about chocolate milk. In the summer of 2015, our gym started a contest searching for the next “Plank Queen.”

At the end of every class, we’d all get in the plank position and see who could hold it the longest. During these awful few minutes, we’d find something to talk about to forget the pain we were experiencing.

I would consistently yell about how badly I was craving chocolate milk – and then proceed to yell about why it was so good for me. I still have members coming up to me telling me that every time they get home from an ab workout, they’ll think of my planking rants and chug a glass of milk. Boo-yah!

I created a hashtag journey. I love hashtags. For me, creating a story or a journey around a specific hashtag adds some fun to your posts and allows your audience to start recognizing it so they can follow along more easily. In December 2015, I went on a vacation to Cancun with my sister, her husband and their cute-as-a-button baby, Alexander (aka I was the babysitter while mom and dad would hit the town at night).

But being the designated babysitter didn’t mean I wasn’t going to get in better shape for the beach. So I started posting my workouts and my post-workout recovery meals.

Every meal had dairy in it, and I began each post with #TheCancunBabysitter. Those few weeks following vacation, I would walk into the gym, and people would say, “Hey, Cancun babysitter!” This proved to me that adding some fun to your story, along with a witty hashtag, really draws people in and keeps them engaged.


My roommate and good friend is an indoor cycling instructor at our gym, known as ElleCycle. We have two different types of followers on our social media platforms, but we share a common goal to build our brands and promote our story. Together, we share each other’s posts and shine a positive light on the content we post. Members of the gym love ElleCycle and listen to what she has to say about health and fitness. With her on Team Dairy, great things are going to happen.

So there you have it, friends. We all have something we love outside of the dairy industry. I challenge you to figure out how to take that passion and turn it into an opportunity to agvocate for the dairy cow we love so much. Go get ’em!  PD

Rebecca Shaw
  • Rebecca Shaw

  • Dairy Producer
  • Cargill Dairy Marketing Specialist
  • Williamsburg, Pennsylvania