By MaryBeth Matzek
MADISON, Wis. — The state’s dairy community honored an Evansville farmer for her tireless work in promoting dairy farming in her community and across the state while also maintaining a vital role on her family’s farm.
Sandy Larson shed tears when her name was announced as the Dairy Business Association’s Advocate of the Year on Wednesday night at the Dairy Strong conference at the Monona Terrace.
As dairy production manager for Larson Acres, her family’s 2,400-cow farm in Rock County, Larson focuses on employee management and milk quality and also leads the dairy’s marketing and promotion efforts.
“I don’t think I do any more than other farmers,” said a surprised Larson as she accepted her award. “You do what’s right for you, your family, your farm and your community.”
Larson develops programs for her employees to help engage and educate them about their role on the farm and in the cheese-making process, Bob Hagenow of Vita Plus Corporation said in announcing the award, which his company sponsored.
“By understanding how their jobs fit into the larger picture — understanding the why and not just the how of what they do — employees become more committed to their work,” Hagenow said.
A big believer in community relations, Larson regularly opens up the dairy to the public and is involved in multiple community activities. She hosts on-the-farm picnics for neighbors, welcomes students and other groups for tours, hosts dairy breakfasts and most recently hosted a farm-to-table dinner.
Hagenow said Larson was an early adopter of using social media to communicate about the farm.
“She does a great job of being transparent and developing fun posts to keep customers and neighbors engaged with what is happening on the dairy,” he said.
Larson is active in dairy promotion organizations, including the county Ag Business Council and the creation of an Ag Ambassador Program, the dairy breakfast committee and local dairy promotion council. Along with her three children, she is also involved in local and county 4-H programs. Larson serves as a dairy project leader and helped host the first fitting and showing clinic for dairy project members.