College Junior Travels to Minnesota Dairy to Complete On-Farm Internship

While most college students are encouraged to complete an internship, they don’t usually move 1,200 miles away to do so. This is exactly what Tori Schiffert, a junior at The Pennsylvania State University studying animal science, decided to do. Tori applied for an on-farm internship during her junior year and was paired with Tauer Dairy in Hanska, Minnesota for that following summer.

“[The internship] has been going really good. I think I adjusted really quickly to it here, and the family has been awesome to work with,” she said.

Tori has some dairy experience in her hometown of Fogelsville, PA where she worked on a dairy farm and grew up showing dairy cows. She is also involved with the Dairy Science Club and the Block and Bridle Club at Penn State. Tori’s goals for the summer have been to gain more experience in the industry and have an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally in the dairy industry. Tori is one of  seven college students who are completing on-farm internships this summer through the Dairy Excellence Foundation, the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association.

Her day-to-day tasks throughout the internship include daily milkings, scraping stalls and cleaning out feed bunks, along with the occasional duties like vaccinations. She has also been assisting with calvings and says her favorite skill she has learned so far has been to pull a calf.

At Tauer Dairy, the 220-cow farm, Tori has not only been able to learn the ins and outs of dairy farming, but says the most valuable skill she has learned has been efficiency.

“The big thing here is they push efficiency. Getting things done in a timely matter, but it still being quality work. I think that’s a really important thing to take away, no matter what I do in life,” she added.

Tori also has an interest in the business aspect of the farm and has worked to calculate the cost of production for the farm, with the help of the owners David and Angie Tauer. This is right up Tori’s alley as she is minoring in agricultural business management at Penn State and hopes to attain a job in the business field of agriculture after graduation. Though she doesn’t have an exact plan after graduation, this internship has helped her to discover her passion for the business aspect of dairy farming. In the future, she hopes to be able to help dairy farmers build their business plans.

All seven of the on-farm interns also had a chance to connect using Facebook message boards. Tori enjoyed seeing how the other interns were doing and what their experiences were like on different types of farms.

Tori also encouraged any student considering this internship to do it and not to be afraid to travel to new places outside of their comfort zones.

“This is the best opportunity I’ve ever had, and I will never regret coming out here, this far away from home, to see new things in life,” she shared.

The Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation, the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association provide $3,000 grants to support the on-farm internship program each summer. Learn more.