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17-year-old dairy farmer makes waves in her community

Progressive Dairy Editorial Intern Emma Ohirko Published on 15 September 2020
Kylie Konyn

Kylie Konyn is ambitious, open-minded, eager to connect consumers to where their food comes from, involved in lots of committees and holds too many titles to count. The catch? She is only 17 years old.

Konyn is a third-generation dairy farmer in San Diego County, California. Her family’s 2,000-cow dairy is just one of two remaining dairy farms in the county. She helps out with bi-weekly vet checks, embryo transfers, dry-off and calves, among other tasks.



Excited by the local food movement and the desire to connect with consumers, Konyn views her farm’s urban location as a great asset. “We try to diversify, and that’s a good thing about San Diego. There’s a lot of opportunity for people to search local,” she says. However, being on City of San Diego land does present some challenges, as the farm faces many restrictions. “We have had to keep the city happy; we can’t do major improvements. So it’s just maintaining what we have and being able to create a sustainable image for ourselves that keeps the public in San Diego happy,” Konyn says.

Konyn says she loves the opportunities the dairy industry affords and always looks forward to attending shows and fairs and meeting new people. She says her favorite part of dairy is community outreach and “being able to create a positive image for the dairy industry.”

Starting at 9 years old, after her grandfather gave her two registered Holstein heifers, Konyn has been raising her own herd. Since then, that herd has grown to 60 registered Jerseys and 120 registered Holsteins. She says she finances the herd independently using milk checks, selling animals and winning prizes at local fairs.

Konyn is involved in several dairy organizations. She is secretary for her local 4-H club, president of the California Junior Jersey Cattle Club and of the California Junior Holstein Association. She is also this year’s Western National Jersey Queen. Konyn says she spends nearly an hour every day working with her show heifers and would like to remain involved with the show industry for the foreseeable future. Outside of the dairy industry, Konyn helps host academic decathlons at her school and plays on the varsity volleyball team.

Kulie Konyn Western National jersey Queen


Among her commitments to extra-curricular activities and her family’s farm, Konyn is a motivated student. She is an incoming senior at high school and is taking classes through her local community college in subjects like calculus and Spanish. She intends to use the college courses as transfer credits once she begins attending a four-year college. She says, “Eventually, I want to earn my masters or doctorate in dairy cattle nutrition or genetics.”

She is intrigued by the possibilities a career in dairy nutrition or genetics presents. “That’s the cool thing about if I choose nutrition or genetics; if I continue my path in either of those two ways, I think that allows me the opportunity to travel and really get the full scope of the United States dairy cattle industry,” Konyn says.

Konyn’s family is in the process of developing a small-scale creamery to serve the San Diego area. Konyn says this would offer her the opportunity to stay involved with her family’s dairy even if changes to the herd take place. She anticipates they may have to reduce their herd size significantly, as she considers their dairy small for California, which can make it hard to stay competitive. The creamery would help them be a more sustainable business, which also supports Konyn’s favorite dairy industry trend. “The trend to move toward local, sustainable, farm-to-table [food] is definitely a huge trend that I am in support of,” Konyn explains.

It is hard to imagine Konyn having any free time left after she does schoolwork, helps on the farm, raises her herd, plays volleyball, works with her show heifers and attends the meetings of the various clubs she is a part of. But she is still a teenager after all and has enjoyed participating in social media trends like a whipped coffee recipe that went viral on TikTok earlier this year. Above all, Konyn says her drive and ambition stem from her desire to be involved in the dairy industry at a state level.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Kylie Konyn devotes about an hour a day to working with her show heifers.

PHOTO 2: Kylie Konyn was chosen as this year’s Western National Jersey Queen. Photos provided by Kylie Konyn.


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