Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Dairy Intern: Amanda Heilman

Published on 29 June 2010


Senior, University of Maryland College Park
Intern at Shoestring Dairy
Based in Tasmania, an Australian island
(Click here to learn more about Tasmania's dairy industry)



Q. In what area are you pursuing a degree?
I am double majoring in animal science, with a focus in dairy, and agricultural science and technology.

Q. What is your agricultural background?
I grew up in 4-H with horses and always wanted to get involved with cows. I finally got the chance to start working on dairies when I got to college and other farms.

I help friends on their farms too, but I never grew up on a farm myself.

Q. What previous internship positions have you held?
I worked for three years at our univeristy dairy farm, part time during school and full time on breaks. I also spent a summer interning at Wye Angus where I did a lot of herd management and rotational grazing management.

In addition, I spent two summers working at the Maryland State Fair in the birthing center. This is where five other students and I birthed calves, pigs and chicks in front of the public. We walked them through the birthing process and also put on milking demonstrations.

Internship information
Q. What will your responsibilities be this summer?
My position title is calf manager for the 2010 calving season. I am in charge of everything involving calves from nights checks, to making sure they get colostrum, to proper identification, to moving them to pasture, and to properly maintaining the bedding and facilities. I will also have to treat sick calves when necessary and prepare bull calves for market.


Q. What do you hope to have learned by the end of your internship?
I hope to learn more responsibility in managing a farm. I have done a lot of work on farms but have never really been given full responsibility of running a farm. I want to be able to make the right decisions that are cost effective and efficient.

Q. What intrigues you most about the farm where you're interning?
It's in Tasmania! What could be more intriguing than that? I get the opportunity to travel, explore and learn, all while doing what I love – farming.

Q. What can you do to make a meaningful impact during your internship?
Be a great asset to my boss. I want to be someone he goes to for ideas and opinions.

Q. What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of your intern duties?
Keeping up with the work demands with the weather. Being a female, I feel that I need to prove myself to the men I work with. That will definitely be a challenge since the work here is demanding physically and the weather can be a bit nasty. This past week it has been very cold with hard, cold rains.

Q. What's your best story from the first day or week of your internship?
Not so much a story but on my first day, I agreed to take a farm tour with my manager and to help with night milking. It was about 4 p.m. when we were bringing in cows and the sun had begun to set. There's just something beautiful and moving about seeing dairy cows on pasture like that. Maybe it's because I don't see it much were I'm from in the states. It was gorgeous. The sky was beaming colors of pink and red and orange on the backs of the Jerseys and Friesians as they made their way up the path.

The scenery is Tasmania is picturesque with lush green pastures, red dirt roads, huge ponds on the farm, and in the distance are mountains. There's also an abundance of wildlife, especially birds. On my first day I saw a flock of cockatoos in the pasture with cows.


Future plans
Q. What do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope to get a job or go to graduate school. If I get a job, I wouldn't mind working for an agricultural company or for the USDA doing dairy research. I'm really interested in genomics and reproductive physiology. If jobs are scarce, then I plan to attend graduate school for dairy reproduction or to get my ag ed masters so that I can hopefully work as an extension agent in Maryland one day. I want to eventually have a grazing dairy of my own where I can teach grazing to others and have a 4-H leasing program at the same time.

Q. Why do you want to remain a part of the dairy industry?
I love the dairy industry. It's amazing to see the heart and dedication in dairy farmers. Some families don't get to take vacations for years and some never do, but they don't complain. They keep on working providing food for the world. Those are people to admire and I aspire to be like them one day; dedicated to working and living off my land while raising a healthy family just the way God intended. PD

Check out Amanda's feature on Proud to Dairy, written by Kelsey Holter.

You can also follow along with Amanda on her adventure by visiting her blog.