Katelyn Taylor, an animal science student at Penn State University, isn’t new to the farm. As an Allenwood, Pennsylvania native, she grew up on a broiler poultry farm with 100,000 chickens and raised dairy heifers. Katelyn was the 2020-2021 Lycoming County Dairy Princess and a dairy 4-Her. She is also a member of the Penn State Dairy Science Club. Now, a college sophomore, she is taking all of her dairy experiences and expanding them through an on-farm internship at Schrack Farms in Loganton, Pennsylvania.
Katelyn originally found the on-farm internship opportunity through online social media ads. Her interest in the program continued to grow as she read about past interns’ experiences and learned how working right on the farm had benefited them. Finally, she decided to apply.
“I thought it would be a neat opportunity to go and experience something I haven’t done before,” said Katelyn.
As an intern, Katelyn spends her days working on different parts of the operation.
“I do odds and ends jobs in the mornings. I feed grain. On Tuesdays, I help with herd check. On Wednesdays, we vaccinate dry cows, so every morning is kind of different. Then, mid-day, I help milk treated and fresh cows and then I feed calves milk,” Katelyn shared.
In addition to farm work, each on-farm intern is required to complete their own research project. Katelyn chose to analyze and revise the standard operating procedures across Schrack Farms. She has mainly focused on the procedures that employees follow when it comes to caring for a beef calf versus a dairy calf. She has made sure that the procedures are being followed to ensure correct calf care is in place, so calves get off to the best start.
Although Katelyn isn’t quite sure where her path may take her after graduation, she knows that she wants to work in the agricultural industry at large. It’s thanks to her on-farm internship that she has been able to get a headstart on her future.
“I feel like it’s still important to get experience…[the internship] gives everyone a chance to figure out what they want to do and where they want to go in life,” she added.
The 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.