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Carrie Mess Encourages FarmHers to Share Their Stories
Carrie Mess is a dairy farmer in southern Wisconsin who has built a well-known food and agriculture blog. Better known publically as Dairy Carrie, for the last six years she’s traveled the world sharing her journey with agriculturists of all ages. By sharing her own story, she encourages other to let their voices be heard. Last week, she was a keynote presenter on FarmHer’s Grow Tour.
More than 500 young women across the Midwest listened to Mess’s presentation, Your Voice Matters. The inspiring and empowering tour made stops at Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin.
The messages Mess shared with the high school- and college-age women stem from a lesson she had to learn for herself through twists and turns in her career.
She encouraged each young woman in the audience to reflect, “What is your unique story? What are your unique connections?” She reminded the ladies, “Your voice, your style is you. That’s what people want to hear when they talk to you.”
Mess concluded by encouraging the audience, “You are the future of the industry. Stand up. Share. Talk to people.”
“I am not the person anyone expected to be doing this,” Mess confesses, reflecting on her early years growing up in Madison, Wisconsin. In fact, early on Mess pictured herself training horses or interpreting for the deaf.
While she has always been an animal lover, Mess’s experiences in agriculture were limited. Outside of a litter of baby raccoons at her grandparents’ farm, growing up she had no exposure to livestock, she explains with a laugh.
Fortunately, for the four years she was there, her high school had an FFA chapter. Involvement in the program opened a door to showing livestock, specifically miniature donkeys. Mess explains that showing animals out of the petting zoo didn’t exactly make her popular, but FFA did facilitate some important relationships in her life.
Today, Mess is still friends with the instructor who facilitated her first showing experience. Due to FFA connections, she also met her husband, Patrick.
Although Patrick grew up on a dairy farm, the couple didn’t plan to become dairy farmers. After realizing that working in a cubicle wasn’t for her, Mess asked her in-laws to hire her to milk. “At that point, I’d milked about three times,” Mess laughs. “By milked, I mean mostly watched and pet cows.”
When her in-laws declined her offer to work for them, she quit her office job. She was determined to work on the farm. “I really found my passion being on the farm,” Mess reflects.
A number of years later, her husband joined her on the family operation.
After realizing all she’d learned on the farm, Mess decided to start sharing online. In 2011, as farmers in Texas were suffering from drought, she got an idea. She set a goal of organizing two loads of donated hay through her blogging connections. By the time she was done, seven loads of hay were sent south.
“That’s when I learned my voice online could really mean something in real life,” Mess shares.
Since then, she’s been using her voice to bring attention to causes and information that matter to her. She’s dedicated hours to explaining the practices on her family’s farm and milk labels.