In 2012, your dairy operation was named as the Small Business of the Year in your local county in South Carolina. How has your role in the Cooperative helped strengthen your dairy business?
Being a farmer-leader isn’t just limited to roles in DFA. If you want to be successful in your dairy business, it is important for you to be involved in your community. My wife, Marilyn, and I are both involved in the Chamber of Commerce in our hometown of Laurens, S.C. Being a part of the chamber has opened our business practices up to people who are not directly involved in the dairy industry. The interaction with professionals in other industries allows us to get ideas on new and different ways we can manage our business, outside of dairying. Marilyn has even become the chairwoman of the beautification committee. Leadership roles aside, I fully believe in community involvement.
The Small Business of the Year is not your only award. In 2014, you won the national American Jersey Cattle Association Distinguished Service Award. How did you earn such an award?
It goes without saying that I am proud of the fact that most of my service has come from the work I do with DFA, DMI and the South Carolina Farm Bureau Dairy Committee. However, being associated in groups such as South Carolina chapters of the Cattle Club and National Animal Identification System, ever present is my acknowledgement of the value of the my Jersey cows. While this award was truly a highlight in my dairy career, the award recognizes the efforts that all farmers put into raising their Jersey cows.
What advice do you have for members who want to get involved in a leadership role?
The most important thing for any member to remember who wants to achieve a leadership role is to be involved. The first step is to get involved in your Area Council. Whether it is attending or volunteering for special roles in committee meetings, as far as I am concerned, there are plenty of entry points to get involved in the leadership of Cooperative. For the Young Cooperators, DFA has developed leadership and training meetings. Finally, whatever role you currently have or plan to get, spend time in each in order to understand more about the Cooperative, the dairy industry and milk marketing in the United States. Believe me, it takes a lot of time to learn.