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Influencer retreat gets the conversation started online

April 1, 2024


5 minute read

Ready to roll up your sleeves and dive headfirst into the world of sustainable dairy farming? This was a question checkoff recently asked as we recruited four online social media influencers for an adventure of a lifetime, experiencing a working dairy farm. This opportunity allowed a select few to share genuine, authentic excitement for dairy as they captured their own on-farm experience, the stories behind dairy products, and their passion for sustainable farming practices.   

Last November, four social media influencers were invited to step into the captivating world of dairy in southeastern Minnesota. While shadowing family farmers and getting on-farm experiences, they were encouraged to document it all through photos and videos to share with their social media following. The influencers were from different cities across the Midwest Dairy 10-state region who had some interest in the industry. Whether that interest stemmed from the joy of searching for adventure and wanting to try something new, a deep love and passion for animals, or reconnecting their farm roots from childhood, each influencer walked on to this dairy farm open-minded and eager to learn. These influencers included Crystal Sorem of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dante Barger of St. Louis, Missouri, Juan David of Chicago, Illinois, and Iyanna McNeely, also of Chicago, Illinois. 

The two-day #DairyBootcamp consisted of each influencer participating in several challenge activities. On day one, influencers dove right in with the first challenge in the Milking Parlor, where they found out if they could keep up with the rotary milker at Daley Farm of Lewiston. Then, they got a farm tour and learned about sustainability systems on the farm, like water recycling and upcycled ingredients. Challenge number two was at the host’s farmhouse, where they all got to take a crack at making their own butter. Afterward, they flavored the butter with different ingredients to enjoy with a homecooked meal. They ended the night with dinner and conversation with the Daley host family.   

Four influencers in milking parlor.

Day two offered another in-depth look at a working dairy farm, learning about calf care. Each influencer took turns trying to lift a newborn calf, which was a lot larger than they had expected. They also got to walk in the rye cover crops and dig up soil to see first-hand what healthy soil looks like, complete with roots and worms. Later, influencers met with a ruminant and human nutritionist and got a crash course on how much care goes into feeding cows and how dairy fuels our bodies. Their next challenge was to make a smoothie using various ingredients to see if they could eat as healthy as a cow. Dr. Joanne Slavin, a dietitian from the University of Minnesota, was the guest judge and speaker. Afterward, they went to Kiefland Holsteins, saw robotic milkers, and learned how technology is utilized on the farm. As a show herd, they also got to lead a cow on a halter. To say goodbye, the group came together at a local brewery to ask any final questions and discuss the experience one last time before heading to the airport.   

Throughout the immersive experience, facts and research were shared as Midwest Dairy aimed to provide a genuine path toward exploring sustainability. Influencers got to physically see how farmers are stewards of the land, resources, and their cows and that they are committed to providing nutritious, wholesome milk and dairy products to nourish people. This event may have occurred in Minnesota, but all 4,400 Midwest dairy farmers were acknowledged as checkoff dispelled misconceptions about dairy’s sustainability across the 10-state region.   

Dairy influencers at dinner.

The goal of #DairyBootcamp was to tell the story of sustainable dairy farming to millions of people through the social channels of these influencers, like Instagram and YouTube. All content created is approved by checkoff before hitting social media and shines a positive light on the industry and their experience. Midwest Dairy also had two videographers and photographers on site and will have access to all the photos and videos captured to continue telling the story to other consumers on other channels. The influencer participants voiced how surprised they were at the amount of thought that goes into dairy farming and that everything could be reused and recycled. As challenges commenced, they also shared how the daily jobs farmers do to keep their farms running seemed intimidating and scary, but after getting the opportunity to do them themselves, the process was incredibly eye-opening.

“Bringing influencers to a dairy farm for an experience is the easy part. The hard part is bringing the story to life on their channels to help others know and understand how amazing dairy is at fueling the world while caring for the land and animals. We will measure impact over the next few months to ensure we are growing trust with consumers.” Eir Garcia Silva, Vice President, Dairy Experience – Marketing.

Overall, this experience brought dairy to life in a fun and out-of-the-box way and allowed for many farmer-led conversations to happen in 48 hours, putting many misconceptions about the dairy industry to rest. As this experience hits social media channels, we are seeing interest from other social media influencers looking to share the same experience with their followers, an opportunity checkoff hopes to grow in the future!