Lara Borchers of Madison County is editor of the Nov. 20, 2017 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.
Passion for the life you lead
Passion [pash-uhn]: noun. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate; a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.
While contemplating how to introduce myself to you, I decided that there is one word that accurately sums up how I ended up where I am today: passion. Passion from those that pushed and encouraged me along the way, passion to continuously learn more and passion to make a difference.
Hello! I am Lara Borchers, and I currently reside in Madison County with my husband, Ryan, and our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Ace. I grew up in rural Brown County, not knowing or understanding anything about agriculture other than living in an area surrounded by corn and soybean fields and showing dogs through 4-H as my older sister had done. When the time came for me to select my high school classes, my sister strongly urged me to add ag ed to my schedule. While she had not been a member of the organization, she had friends that spoke very highly of the program and made her wish she had been a part of it. She knew that if I found interest in the program, it would take me to new heights. Reluctantly, I agreed to try the class for two weeks and informed her that I had full intention of dropping it after the two-week trial. Two weeks was all it took.
My adviser instantly grabbed onto the potential he saw in me and had me entered in every possible CDE contest before I had a chance to say no.
With the very first contest, rural soil judging, he saw the passion I had to do my very best in anything I put my mind to. Growing up on a dairy farm, he developed a tremendous passion for the dairy industry, which eventually was transferred to me through his willingness to teach me everything he knew about judging cattle and understanding the dairy operation. The first time I competed in a dairy judging contest, I went with the newly taught mentality to find the highest-widest rear udder only to find that four of the six classes were heifer classes-no udders there! Using my comparative knowledge of dog confirmation to place the classes that day, I ended up 22nd in the contest and only improved as time went on. Through these dairy judging contests, I met another very passionate dairy farmer, Bonnie Ayars. Bonnie is the one that truly pushed and encouraged me to continue with judging beyond high school. She coached me on the state 4-H team and eventually convinced me to attend The Ohio State University to study dairy science and compete on her collegiate dairy judging team.
A young girl that had never physically seen a dairy cow until her freshman year of high school, went on to become an All-American dairy judge at the 4-H and collegiate levels. Now, I work for the largest dairy genetics company in the country whose brand promise is “Your Success Our Passion”- the one and only, Select Sires Inc. Only the passion of those around me and my own could have brought me here.
Sept. 20, a Category 5 hurricane, Maria, struck the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, pounding the island for more than 30 hours and delivering more than 38 inches of rain. You all understand the dedication and commitment it takes to care for livestock in normal conditions and can imagine the obstacles to overcome when there is no available electricity or running water. Milking a herd of cows becomes nearly impossible for the dairy farmers, and milk trucks are unable to pick up loads, not to mention the majority of these herds are free range in the mountainous areas with little or no protection from the storm. Two months later, many of these farmers are still facing such challenges.
I mention this tragedy to compliment the agricultural industry, or “family” as I like to refer to it, on its commitment to helping other farmers near and far. This stemmed from an email I received today from our vice president of international sales and marketing department stating, “We are providing semen to each of these [Puerto Rican] distributors at no cost. This effort will go toward helping their dairy customers in a time of need, which is important to Select Sires and our foundation of farmer-owned cooperatives. This small donation of genetics will help dairymen build back those beautiful herds of dairy cows grazing along the countryside and provide some financial relief.” It is very reassuring to know that I work for a company that is more concerned with the farmer’s success than their bottom dollar — all of which can be attributed to the fact that we are owned by our customers, regulated by our board of directors and managed by employees who are fellow farmers.
As you can read in this NPR article, farmers are resilient and will do whatever it takes to keep moving forward; however, there are times that we can all use a little help. Many of us recall the loads of hay, feed and supplies being transported out west to farmers that suffered the wildfires this past March and the recent stories of local Ohio farmers that have suffered tragic losses with neighbors reaching out to help get crops out of the fields or help milk their herd of cows until they can get back up and running. This proves, once again, that regardless of their own personal challenges, farmers are always willing to lend a hand. So from one young agricultural professional to another, thank you for your commitment to helping those in need, thank you for lending a hand to a neighbor, and thank you for continually demonstrating to consumers that farmers are caring, generous people.
Working as a communication specialist at Select Sires, I am tasked with making sure that our company brand is represented in every piece that I produce. What is a brand? Is it the logo, the tag line, the mission, the reputation, the promise to customers? Each one of these elements contributes to a business’ brand; it is how customers recognize you and what they associate you with. The Select Sires logo is one of the most recognized logos in the agricultural industry, but why? Because, the image has been unchanged for more than 50 years and the message associated with Select Sires is, and has always been, customer success.
As farmers, we all have a brand to represent. You may host farm tours, sell fresh produce at farmers markets or roadside stands, host annual pumpkin patch or corn maze events or blog about the life of a farmer in effort to promote agriculture to consumers. Perhaps you farm organically, conventionally or have found your own niche market. Regardless of the message associated with your operation, consumers are watching your every move and there should be a strong representation of your brand in all you do.
We often get caught up in telling our stories to others within our industry, because they are the ones willing to listen or we don’t know how to expand our reach. Is social media the answer to reaching a larger audience? As this Ad Age article states, social media often leaves a short-term effect on building a brand and can be quickly washed out or deterred by other differing opinions. The key to building a strong brand is to supply long-term messaging to even the ones that do not necessarily want to listen, but in a way that they will still hear. Focus on how or why your message affects them now and in the future. What value will they gain from understanding how their food is produced?
How do you do that? Unfortunately, the answer will be different for everyone — what works for one northwestern Ohio farmer might not work with the audience of a southeastern Ohio farmer. Our state, our country and our world differ vastly in production methods and in consumer perspectives, but the studies show that the average consumer is concerned where their food comes from and how it is produced. Find what works best for you and your operation and build your brand for long-term return on investment in your market and community. Build your brand because you are passionate about your lifestyle and want others to understand and respect it.
(1) 12-ounce package fresh, uncooked cranberries, diced
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
16 ounces cream cheese, whipped
In a medium-sized bowl, add chopped cranberries, green onion, cilantro and jalapeño. (If you decide to use frozen cranberries, let them thaw and drain the water before you begin.)
Pour sugar, lemon juice and salt over cranberry mixture and stir gently until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.
Take cranberry mixture out of the refrigerator and strain out all liquid using a colander with small holes.
Whip softened cream cheese with hand mixer until smooth (about two minutes) and spread cream cheese over bottom of a pie plate or 9×9 dish. Pour cranberry mixture on top of cream cheese and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Use a spoon to spread over Ritz crackers and enjoy!