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Lifelong learning: Education is ongoing and ever-changing

Kevin Griswold for Progressive Dairy Published on 08 October 2021

“The one thing they can never take away from you is your education.”

I’ll always remember this quote from my high school agriculture teacher – perhaps because she repeated it often, but also because of its simple truth.

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No matter where we are on our career or personal journey, our education provides a solid foundation and gives us the momentum to take the next step forward. My ag teacher’s words have stayed with me over the years and driven me to not only keep learning myself but also to encourage my family and employees to do the same.

Learning is also a continuum, especially on today’s dairy farms. As a vast range of technologies and management practices present themselves, we are always challenged to stay ahead of the curve and sort out the information that will help us be better managers of our cows, land and people.

Our needs and priorities shift as our jobs and farms change. As Tag Lane Dairy grew from 100 cows in 1992 to 1,700 today, my role has evolved and required me to develop new skills. In the beginning, I was the hands-on operator for every job on the farm. Now I spend most of my time managing and planning, with not nearly as much time doing the hands-on work I like to do. The transition has pushed me out of my comfort zone many times and compelled me to learn new skills and seek additional training opportunities.

Because everyone’s learning goals and paths are different, we approach education at the dairy as an opportunity to “grow where you are at.” Whether that perspective comes from an immigrant who is seeking to improve English skills, a part-time high school student deciding what his future will be, a college intern preparing for a career on her home farm or in the industry, or a manager building skills to better lead and communicate with his team, we are always looking for opportunities to build knowledge and experience.

It’s also true that not everything in a workshop or course has to be immediately applicable to a person’s current responsibilities. Building communications and people skills has value in virtually all of life’s roles, even if calf care is an employee’s current role rather than human resources. A training session may not teach an employee anything about treating calves, but it can still help him work more effectively in teams and prepare him for future opportunities.

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As a former board member for both the Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) and Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, I had the opportunity to not only attend a variety of training sessions but also be involved in identifying ideas for future programming and be involved in the planning of those events.

In addition to management and leadership training on focused dairy-specific topics, the PDPW Managers Academy delivers managerial perspectives from outside the dairy industry. Among other educational objectives, this program highlights industries and companies that have successfully made significant changes to adapt to changing markets and consumer demands.

In addition to my own business, our industry and the world is constantly changing and evolving. Education equips us with the tools to understand, adapt and successfully move forward with confidence.  end mark

Kevin Griswold co-owns and operates Tag Lane Dairy Farm in Ixonia, Wisconsin, with his wife, Chris. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has served as past president and board member of PDPW and is a past board member of the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation. He and Chris have four children: Stacey, Brad, Briana and Ryan. 

Kevin Griswold
  • Kevin Griswold

  • Dairy Producer
  • Tag Lane Dairy

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