Treasure Clark is carrying on the family tradition with Jersey cattle
SENECA, MO. – Not everyone starts out being a farm kid. Some start life in the concrete jungle, far from green pastures and the whirring of milking machines.
For McDonald County High School senior Treasure Clark, her start in life is a complete 180 degrees from the life she loves and hopes to continue on the family-owned dairy located in extreme western McDonald County, Mo.
“I grew up in Dallas (Texas) until I was 7 years old and then my Mom decided that it was better for us to come back to where she grew up,” Treasure said. “It was a little bit of a culture shock.”
The farm has been in the Hays family at the current location for more 50 years, and they are no strangers to farm life.
“I’d rather live here over anywhere else,” Treasure said. “I love the dairy and the sounds in the milk barn and the cows.”
Treasure admits she was a very shy child, and her mother, Crystal, thought getting her into showing dairy cows would be beneficial.
Crystal is no stranger to dairy or showing cows. Following her father’s, George L. Hays, footsteps, they have raised quality Jerseys for years, making Treasure and her younger siblings, Maylee and Kyson, the fourth generation to work on the family dairy farm.
They milk mainly Jerseys with a couple of Holsteins thrown in. Treasure has shown Holsteins, but is partial to the Jersey breed.
“Jerseys can take the heat much better than the Holsteins, and they also give a lot more milk,” Treasure said. “I really like that they are more docile. Holsteins think they can be pushy because of their size, and I don’t really like that.”
For Treasure, the various experiences in 4 -H and FFA have solidified the importance of family farms and the impact that livestock production has on a global scale, whether it be poultry, beef cows, dairy cows, or goats.
She credits FFA with gaining respect for other areas of agriculture outside the dairy industry.
Treasure has served as the McDonald County FFA historian and reporter, but it is her concentrations in poultry, livestock and food science that make her an advocate for family farms and agriculture.
“I feel like because of the things I have learned, especially about poultry production and how much time and work goes into caring for thousands of chickens, I can now explain to people who aren’t from rural areas just how important family farms are in feeding people,” Treasure said.
The plight of family-owned dairies gets little attention from those unfamiliar with the challenges and commitment involved in running a dairy.
“I remember when people would say that their family milked cows. Then it was the grand-parent’s milking cows and then people saying they remember their great-grandparents milking,” George said. “Today, the younger generation doesn’t even seem to care how the milk gets to the store. It is a shame.”
The family did have to say goodbye to several head in recent months, but the consolation was all George’s hard work to raise quality Jersey cows paid off. The cows were purchased by a young farmer starting his own Jersey herd.
“We are all involved in the dairy operation. Even my younger siblings work with calves, and I am sure that they will definitely help in the future in the dairy barn,” Treasure said. “If we ever had to stop, it would be very sad for all of us.”
The shy little girl from Texas has earned a name for herself in the dairy world.
In April, she won the Missouri FFA Dairy Production-Placement Award at the Missouri FFA Convention. She has been invited by the Board of Directors for the American Jersey Cattle Association to attend the Eighth Annual Jersey Youth Academy in July.
She is also a member of the United States Holstein Association, the Missouri Jersey Cattle Association and the Missouri Holstein Association. She is a member of the National Honor Society at McDonald County High School.
“I most definitely plan to help with the dairy as long as I can,” Treasure said. “When I decide to go to college, I want to go into veterinary medicine.”
Her plans post high school currently revolve around helping with the dairy and expanding on the milk cows. The family also sells fresh milk and eggs on-site through their Milk House on State Line venture.
“I think a lot about how we would have turned out if Mom hadn’t moved us here from Dallas,” Treasure said. “I’m so glad she did. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”