Dairy Farm Women Stories

Celebrate Wisconsin Dairy Farmers

Women in Farming

Women have a long tradition of being the backbone of Wisconsin’s rural economy. And their roles in Wisconsin’s dairy industry continue to expand thanks to greater access to education, agricultural resources and support networks. It’s not uncommon to find women today doing stereotypically male activities like driving large farm equipment, managing the business operations or even pioneering new products made from the nutritious milk produced right on the farm. Many of them also juggle the dual role of working on the farm and being a mom. These influential women have broken down barriers and made their mark on Wisconsin’s dairy industry.

Farmer Stories

Want to talk with one of these or another industry-leading dairy farmer in your coverage area to learn more about her achievements? 
Contact Liz Fitzsimmons at 608-203-7280 / lfitzsimmons@wisconsindairy.org

Royal Guernsey - Columbus

Jennifer Orchard and Julie Bacon

Julie and her husband Ed run the family’s 7th-generation dairy farm. They were looking to grow their operation and take advantage of the premium milk their Guernsey cows produce. They worked with the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison and determined that there was a gap in the butter industry. That led them to establish Royal Guernsey Creamery where they use the cream from their own cows to make artisan butter. Royal Guernsey Creamery is completely farm to table. They grow the crops, care for the cows and produce premium butter for families to enjoy. Jennifer serves as the buttermaker for the creamery and Julie manages the farm, including caring for the cows, doing recordkeeping, managing herd health and helping to promote the creamery.

Vaarendahl Dairy - Black River Falls

Erica Olson

Erica grew up on her family’s dairy farm. When she was in college, she decided she wanted to take over the farm from her parents someday. When she had her own children, Erica and her husband Dominick started the transition to ownership of the farm. It was important to her to have her kids grow up on the farm so they could develop a strong work ethic, learn about farming and be outside, just as she had done. But she wasn’t ready to give up her career as the farmer network and communications coordinator at UW-Madison Extension. So Erica juggles her full-time job off the farm along with helping Dominick and her parents out on the farm with things like book work, managing the organic certification and doing other duties as needed. She also cares for her twin boys. Erica’s ability to juggle a career, farm ownership and family life is an inspiration for all women.

Selz Pralle Dairy - Humbird


After working for five years in agri-business, Pam returned to her family’s 500-cow dairy farm to work with her dad. Pam feels it’s important to work hard and to give back to the community. She is very active off the farm and volunteers with many organizations. She participates in the Adopt-a-Cow program, which allows elementary students to “adopt” a cow for their classroom. She’s also involved with “Finding Our Common Ground” where farm moms meet with consumer moms to answer their questions about dairy products and educate them about how they can incorporate real dairy products into their diets. She also sits on the Gold Standard Task Force for the National Dairy Calf and Heifer Association, which sets guidelines and best management practices on calf care. All of her good work on and off the farm led Pam to recently earn the Wisconsin Master Agriculturalist Award.