Many people have claimed that farming is in their blood. This couldn’t ring truer for Christopher Carpio of Blue Ridge Dairy in Colorado, who ventured off of the farm — only to find his way back.
A third-generation dairy producer on both sides of his family, Carpio left for college and a career as an engineer in 1997.
“I found myself drawn to engineering because I wanted to do something different to see if dairying was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he says.
Despite leaving the farm and working as an electrical engineer at cement plants, in 2007, Carpio returned to work with his parents at their dairies in Kersey and Gill, Colo., both named Horizon-Vue. Then, in 2014, he decided to start his own dairy with his wife, Bonnie, whom he had met on the farm when she made a sales call for Semex, a leading cattle genetics company.
Now milking for nearly a year, Blue Ridge Dairy has expanded from 85 Holsteins to 300. Carpio and his wife have also expanded their family with two sons, Jacob, 8, and Brayden, 7.
“I worked hard as an engineer, which made the company I worked for more money, but now I’m my own boss, and when I work hard, I’m helping my own business,” Carpio says.
Also helping his business is involvement in DFA membership activities and programs, which started when he returned to work for his family. Field Representative Lindsey Dimond persuaded Carpio to attend the fall Young Cooperator (YC) Conference.
The YC program offers members ages 18–40 resources for learning dairy herd management techniques, employee and labor policies, Cooperative leadership opportunities and more.
In addition to meeting new people with common interests, Carpio says the YC program was significant in helping him become more involved in issues affecting the industry.
“Serving on the YC Committee has given us many opportunities within DFA, including representing Colorado at the National Milk Producers Federation conference in 2012, and now I’m serving as a delegate for the Mountain Area,” he says.
Carpio also says that participating in the Cooperative’s decision-making processes has been a rewarding experience.
“Recently, I attended the Mountain Area Resolutions Committee meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s nice to be a part of an organization that gives young members a voice,” he says.
Besides participating in Cooperative programs, Carpio is also a graduate of the Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI), a limited-enrollment, three-phase leadership program for young adults from across the globe offered by the Holstein Foundation Inc.
Carpio says that YDLI gave him more confidence to be able to answer questions about the dairy industry intelligently and to learn more about worldwide industry practices.
With the YC program and the YDLI inspiring him to do more, Carpio has committed himself to many activities in his community and with other agricultural organizations. He is Weld County 4-H Advisory Council president, Weld County Dairyman Fund vice president and Weld County Fair Dairy superintendent.
The Carpios are also immediate past-chairs of the Mountain Area YC Steering Committee — serving for more than two years.
As part of the Steering Committee, Bonnie and Christopher are responsible for fostering ideas for future meetings and helping to run events with DFA staff.