Join us in telling the story of New York farms!

The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition (NYAAC) is seeking those involved in the dairy industry to consider volunteering at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair, August 21 – September 1, 2014. The Dairy Cow Birthing Center was a new exhibit at the State Fair last year that attracted over 160,000 urban and suburban fairgoers by offering an opportunity to see the birth of a baby calf and talk to a real farmer.

“What makes this exhibit memorable is not only the baby calves, but the volunteers who take time to share their passion for the dairy industry,” said Jessica Ziehm, Executive Director of NYAAC. “As an industry, we must do a better job of telling our story, and the State Fair is the perfect venue to do so with nearly a million people visiting it. Our efforts were successful last year and we ask that you consider signing up as a volunteer this year at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center. You won’t regret the time you spend.”

Jean Gallagher of Farm Credit East takes time to answer questions and share her story of growing up on her family's dairy farm with fairgoers while volunteering that the Dairy Cow Birthing Center last year.

Jean Gallagher of Farm Credit East takes time to answer questions and share her story of growing up on her family’s dairy farm with fairgoers while volunteering that the Dairy Cow Birthing Center last year.

This year, NYAAC is seeking roughly 400 people from the dairy industry to help tell the wonderful story of dairy farming at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center. You don’t have to be a professional spokesperson or a dairy farmer to fill this volunteer role. You simply need to be dairy-minded with a positive attitude and a couple hours to spare. We welcome farmers, veterinarians, nutritionists, tractor dealers, students, sales reps, faculty and more to fill these shifts, which are several hours long, every day of the State Fair.

The primary role of volunteers will be to converse with the public and be available to answer any questions they many have. Volunteers are encouraged to talk about their experience in the dairy industry with fairgoers and help portray a positive image of dairy farms. Volunteers may also be asked to help out with the animals, whether it be filling the water tub, feeding baby calves or cleaning pens.

In order to help prepare volunteers, NYAAC will offer and require all volunteers to watch a short webinar before arriving at the Fair, which will include details about the exhibit and how to “tell your story” to the public. NYAAC will also provide a written document with frequently asked questions and answers. All volunteers will be provided a “There’s no udder place for the answer.” T-shirt, along with official Birthing Center credentials. Free State Fair admission and a parking pass will also be provided to volunteers who sign up before August 16, 2014.

Many volunteers last year expressed a sense of pride after spending time at the Birthing Center. Rick Welsh, a dairy nutritionist with Lutz Feeds, said, “I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve been involved with the dairy industry my entire life. I pulled a shift today at the state fair in the birthing tent. Got to talk to old, young, foreign, city, and country folks about dairy farms and cows. Hands down, the most rewarding day I have ever had in this business.”

The Dairy Cow Birthing Center is a free, educational exhibit that provides fairgoers the opportunity to witness the live birth of baby calves daily at the New York State Fair. The exhibit showcases three births daily and six different farms over the course of 12 days. New features to the exhibit this year will be expanded seating for 700 people, year-old calves that were born last year during the State Fair, a mechanical backscratcher donated by Future Cow, and short video clips of the featured farm.

NYAAC organizes the Dairy Cow Birthing Center in partnership with the New York State Fair and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. NYAAC is a farmer founded and funded organization that strives to enhance the public’s understanding of and appreciation for animal agriculture and modern farm practices by engaging the public in conversations about animal agriculture and empowering farmers to tell their story firsthand.

To sign up as a volunteer at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center or to simply learn more about this exhibit, please contact Jessica Ziehm at jessica@nyanimalag.org or at 518-527-3949.