How To: Advocate for Agriculture
Gabby Taylor, Graduating Senior, Newark High School
Dear Future Advocates,
My name is Gabriella Taylor. I am a young woman who has been immersed in agriculture my entire life. I am writing to you now to tell you how I became involved in animal agriculture, specifically the dairy industry, and how I have been able to use my voice to encourage others to get involved. I believe that agriculture exists in all aspects of our lives, far beyond the plate. And for that reason, I strive to advocate for agriculture and help others learn how to use their voices to do the same.
My grandparents owned a farm, Sunnylot, in Newark, NY, until I was three years old. For as long as I can remember, I traveled with my parents while they worked with the NY Farm Bureau. Through Farm Bureau, my parents were able to attend conferences with farmers from all over the country to learn about new technology, techniques, and focuses of the agriculture Industry. American Farm Bureau works to keep farmers informed while also teaching them how to advocate for themselves.
When I was seven, going on eight, the eligible age to join 4-H, my grandparents bought me my first show animal, a red and white Holstein heifer named Filly. I leased another heifer from El-Vi Farms in Newark, NY, to show, and my passion for working with dairy cattle quickly grew.
I am incredibly fortunate to have found an industry I love and want to support at a young age. When I am asked why do I do it? My simple answer is, “love, unconditional love.” It’s incredible to me the connection and relationship you can build with an animal weighing 1,500 pounds. Again, Filly comes to mind.
Typically, my family starts working with our show animals at the beginning of July. From then on, we work with them daily through the end of August. At the end of my first show season with Filly, we brought her back to her pen with her other bovine friends so she could socialize and grow until the next show season. We visited her about a week after returning Filly to her pen with her herd mates. Filly was lying in a stall, but when she noticed me, she got up and came to the front of the pen where I was standing to see me and get some love. Ever since then, all my animals find me before I find them in the barn. They follow me around, and on my bad days, I can count on them to be there for me to comfort me. I would have never expected these animals to affect me like they have and show me unconditional love in return for the care and respect I show them.
Today I work as the El-Vi Farms Calf Manager and house my ten registered Holsteins there. While working at the farm, I created a social media account on Facebook and Instagram, @DairyDilemmaTruths, where I show off the daily life of a calf feeder on a large commercial dairy farm and provide the truth about dairy farming.
In addition to my work at El-Vi, I am the 2022 NY State Dairy Ambassador! As the New York State Dairy Ambassador, I travel around the state to promote the dairy industry and engage with consumers on behalf of all New York State Dairy Farmers. So far, some of my favorite activities in this role have been attending the New York State Public High School Athletic Associations basketball championships. At this event, I was able to hand out chocolate milk to athletes to help them refuel and make announcements at halftime about the benefits of chocolate milk. I could also attend a Virtual Farm Tour at Reyncrest Farms and learn the behind-the-scenes production aspects. We also have to create our own content around the event, which you can see on our socials @nysdairyambassadors on Instagram and Facebook! Additionally, the state team and I collaborated with the New York Beef Council to make our favorite beef on dairy recipes for a series that will air during June Dairy Month! I have enjoyed these experiences being able to represent how dairy farmers take care of their land and cows while producing a wholesome, nutritious product, milk!
I do participate in activities that do not involve cattle or a farm. I am involved with our school’s team sports and musical theatre. I love reminding my teammates and cast members to refuel with chocolate milk and provide conversations with a farmer’s perspective. Advocating is simple: talk to others about what you know and love.
In the Fall of 2022, I plan to attend St. Bonaventure University, majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science. I believe agriculture needs a voice, whether through social media, on-farm events, public settings, or policy. I have loved being able to communicate and converse with consumers about the agricultural industry for most of my life. I cannot wait to continue to further my education, learn about farming outside of Wayne County and New York State, and use those learning experiences to represent farmers and the animal agriculture industry better.
Follow me on social media to see firsthand how I advocate for agriculture! I encourage you to try it out; next time you post on your own social media page or are making small talk with the person sitting next to you on an airplane, tell them why you support animal agriculture by sharing a simple story or experience you’ve had. You’ll be surprised how these small things can help us advocate for agriculture.
Thank you for the advocacy work you’ve done and will continue to do.