Raised in a barn

Written by Molly Schmitt

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned through farming is to be responsible and take care of things,” she says. “Farming teaches you how to show respect to people, animals and the environment, which is something a lot of people need to learn in today’s society. I like to help people, and to me, the biggest thing you can do as a farmer is help people through producing food.”

Ashton Atteberry (19, Conway, Mo.) 
Raised on her family’s dairy farm, Atteberry Dairy, Ashton began working on the farm at a very young age, which sparked her continued passion for the industry.

“I can honestly say that I was raised in a barn. As a toddler, I was always in the milk barn with my mom,” Ashton says. “Living on a dairy farm has given me opportunities and experiences that many kids don’t have. I learned to appreciate all the hard work and dedication that it takes to produce a product for others, and learned that it is something I want to be a part of.”

Growing up, Ashton increasingly took on responsibilities around the dairy, including milking, feeding calves and working alongside her dad on the farm and in the fields. When she was 13 years old, she received a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase five of her own milk cows.

Before graduating high school, Ashton purchased an additional 25 Holsteins to increase her herd to 30. She manages and is responsible for all her expenses, such as feed, hay, veterinary care and added labor costs.

“Living on a farm and owning my own dairy cows has positively affected my life and has taught me many lessons, such as challenges in life, hard work, dedication, responsibility and the management of cattle, land and money,” Ashton says. “I have been raised to be financially independent and have learned to manage and save money to pay my current and future expenses. I cannot imagine any other way of life and want to raise my family the same way my family has raised me, which is on a farm.”

Ashton expanded her agricultural knowledge and found success as an active FFA member in high school. From being a chapter officer to using her dairy cows as her entrepreneurship project, she was recognized for her hard work and dedication to dairy by receiving the Midwest Dairy Association Award for Dairy Entrepreneurship, FFA Excellence Award, FFA Star in Agriscience and first place at the area and state level for dairy entrepreneurship.

Looking to further her agricultural knowledge, Ashton is currently pursuing her associate’s degree in agriculture at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo. She then plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business. While attending college classes, she lives at home and is still able to manage her herd and work on the farm. Ashton plans to expand her herd and manage her own farm in the future, as well as become a successful woman in agriculture, which includes telling the dairy story to others.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there about dairy farming, such as how we treat our cows and the product we produce,” she says. “We love our cows — we properly care and provide for them, just like they provide for our family, and the product they produce is fresh, safe and nutritious.”