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Lease-A-Dairy revitalizes Colorado 4-H community

Scott Hall for Progressive Dairyman Published on 09 June 2017
Hayden Reynolds with his calf

For 4-H youth in the city neighborhoods of Larimer County, Colorado, dairies throughout the county are keeping the program in Fort Collins stronger than ever.

Lease-A-Dairy Program provides a place to preserve cattle for members of the Larimer 4-H dairy project who do not have access to property otherwise.

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“Fort Collins is a big city, and there’s not a lot of rural area left,” says Amanda Dye, founder of Lease-A-Dairy Program. “Kids don’t really have the acreage to keep livestock in this area.”

Dye of Fort Collins’ Dyecrest Dairy started this program over 10 years ago and has since remained involved as its primary leader as well as a dairy sponsor. “At that time, the 4-H dairy project in Larimer County was pretty well dead,” Dye says. “It’s grown considerably every year since. We’ve had several dairies that have stepped up, and there’s plenty of cattle out there.”

What started out as a non-organized, open invitation for 4-H’ers to pick their own dairy calves at Dyecrest Dairy has now become a program sponsored by multiple dairies throughout the county.

Rachel Schneider, 17, claims the program has given her the agricultural experience she “would never be able to have without them.”

“It has changed my life,” Schneider, a five-year member, says. “My family was never able to settle down on farmland, so through Lease-A-Dairy I was actually able to show dairy animals and get involved in the agricultural community. Programs like this, that help integrate city kids, help the general public.”

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Hayden Reynolds, 16, also recognizes the generosity of these local dairies. “The sponsors for Lease-A-Dairy – Dyecrest and everybody else who does the project – are really helpful and willing to have fun,” he says.

“It feels like a big family with everybody who does the project. I enjoy working with the animals; I was never able to do that until I got into this. It’s meant a lot.” Reynolds has been participating for four years.

Dyecrest Dairy and Taft Hill Dairy are the only two sponsoring dairies from the county’s urban center of Fort Collins. Other sponsoring dairies include Covenant Farms (Greeley), Mountain View Dairy (Loveland) and Pickert Dairy (Berthoud).

“The dairies are willing to let the kids come out and mess around with the calves,” Dye says. “Having kids come out and see what’s really going on, see how the cattle are being treated and handled.”

“We don’t have that many dairies in the Larimer County area, but the few we have are extremely generous in wanting to help our kids learn,” Shari Stroup says, leader of Larimer 4-H Project.

In addition to providing livestock for 4-H, the program holds four dairy clinics from January through April of each year, featuring special guest speakers. These informative clinics are coordinated by Stroup. Their most recent clinic included a trip to Morning Fresh Dairy Farms in Bellvue, where kids toured the dairy and the Noosa Yoghurt plant.

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“This gives the kids an opportunity to learn about dairy animals and the dairy industry,” Stroup says.

Morghan Tucker (left) and Kendal Tucker (right)

The clinic meetings give youth an understanding of the dairy life beyond 4-H as well as what skills they can be working on now. “You come out knowing so much more about fitting, clipping, the show ring,” Schneider says. “I’m really interested in how to get involved in the dairy industry – to see everything from start to finish.”

“These kids have an education of the dairy world,” Dye says. “This is one way we can contribute to giving the dairy industry a positive image.”

“We have several who started out in the Lease-A-Dairy Program and got so involved with it, they have their own,” Strout says. “That makes me happy to see families go and purchase a place to have their animals.”

There are currently 32 youth involved in the Lease-A-Dairy Program. Twenty-one of these members are new to the program.

“We’re a big family, and we all share,” Schneider says.

“It has far exceeded my expectations of anything I thought it would be,” Dye says. “I can assume the program will continue to grow.”

If one ever wishes to see this 4-H group in action, they’ll be at their usual post at the main entrance of the Larimer County Fair, August 4-8, in Fort Collins. Many members will be showing their choice cattle there as well.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Hayden Reynolds, a four-year participant of the lease program, says it “feels like a big family with everybody who does the project.” 

PHOTO 2: Morghan Tucker, left, and Kendal Tucker, right, are two of the 32 youth involved in the lease program. Photos provided by Amanda and Terence Dye.

Lease-A-Dairy Program is a free asset available to those in Larimer 4-H Dairy Project. For more on the Larimer 4-H Dairy Project, visit Larimer Dairy Project.

Scott Hall is a freelance writer and recent Utah State University graduate. Email Scott Hall

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