Hometown: Conway, Mo.
Family: Tony and Nikki Whitehead; sisters Lauren, Taylor and Alyssa.
FFA Chapter: Conway FFA
College: Oklahoma State University, majoring in animal science and agriculture business.
What is your involvement in agriculture? “I am studying at Oklahoma State University right now with a double major. After that, I hope to go to graduate school to study ruminant nutrition. All of my studies focus on the dairy industry. I grew up on a dairy farm in Conway where we still milk 120 Holsteins a day.”
What is the best part of working in the dairy industry? “Working with the cattle. It makes for long days. This is definitely a 24/7, 365-day a year job. You have to have a passion for the cattle and the work but that is what puts farmers above and beyond, in terms of this is not just another job. And you get to work every day with your family, that’s the best part of a family farm.
“The other part is the people you meet along the way, the camaraderie you find in showing the cattle, for instance, like at the Missouri State Fair. We also show Jerseys.”
What is the worst part? “Without a doubt, it’s the financial instability, the market. You are always fighting and we are often on the defensive in the public’s eye. We are too often seen in a negative light as we are farther and farther removed from their view and their understanding of what we really do. There are organizations out there that have very little understanding of true animal husbandry practices so that makes it that much harder for those in this business. It just means we have to work harder on a daily basis to get the job done.”
She concluded with a shrug and a smile. “Still, this has always been my life and I love it.”