Your Cart

Dairy Kind - Interview with Michelle Schack, D.V.M.

Dairy Kind - Interview with Michelle Schack, D.V.M.

Dr. Michelle Schack, D.V.M., didn’t grow up around agriculture, but she got there as fast as she could. She grew up in the bay area of California near Silicon Valley in a very urban area. As a child she tried to join 4-H, but everyone was knitting and crafting and nobody had animals. It wasn’t until college that she got involved in learning about food production.

“I didn’t grow up in agriculture and that is what has rooted my passion in educating the consumer. I learned so much when I got involved in agriculture, and I want everyone to have that opportunity to learn as well.”, says Dr. Schack.

 

Consumer Connection

She goes on to explain, "I think consumers are worried that there are farmers that don’t care about their animals. But if they step back, take a tour, or chat with the farmer then they can see things from a different point of view. It’s good for consumers, but it is the same for famers, and all of those of us in agriculture. We need to not get frustrated with how little people know. See it from their perspective, it is not their fault, they were raised in a way that didn’t provide education about agriculture. Being able to relate and connect to the consumer will positively impact the profitability and sustainability of our industry.  

When I was in vet school, I edited an online blog for Dr. Scott Hurd out of Iowa State. He was very passionate of sharing out to consumers about what he knew about raising pigs and the pork industry as a whole. He used to tell us all the time, we have to get out of the barn yard. How do we get out of the barnyard? That was his driving mission. I still remember that to this day.

When people think they are “advocating” for agriculture, but in a way that bashes on or puts down uneducated consumers or people who think differently than them, they are alienating those people. They may have a lot of followers, but their followers are people that are already involved in agriculture and they are missing out on a whole group of people that would really benefit from the message. I try to be very factual and nonjudgmental as I answer questions.

When I do answer a question that seems like it should be something that is common knowledge, I end up getting a lot of views and there ends up being a lot of discussion. It brings other people to the page and opens the door for a lot of consumer education. I find it is helpful to answer all questions respectfully.":

 

Social Media

"My broad message is that we have a lot of food choices out there and nobody should be shamed for their food choices. But we should all be making educated and informed food choices. I hope that nobody is choosing one product over another based-on fear. There is so much misinformation out there, I want them to know that the farms I work with truly value their employees and their animals and they want to do a good job producing quality food. I hope that is the message that I get across. If consuming dairy is not their thing, then that’s ok, but I want them to come to their decision based on fact, not inflammatory words in the media," says Dr. Schack.

 

Public Speaking

Dr. Schack does a lot of public speaking geared towards consumer education.  She says,” I think it is important that consumers have access to the facts and to people that are willing to share their stories. Not just farmers, but everyone involved in the agriculture industry. It is really great if we can all connect together to share our stories and round out the picture of agriculture.

 

Employee Training

Dr. Schack and her colleagues are very passionate about working toward better employee training throughout the dairy industry. She and several other veterinarians founded Dairy Kind, a dairy education company.

Dr. Schack explained, “Getting training to employees was and is a big part of our job as veterinarians, however, we could not keep up with the labor turnover, and the amount of training that needs to be done in the field. So, we created an online platform where employees could have access to training that gives employees the best start to do the best job they can do.  

It is for all dairy employees and includes different pathways for different roles on the dairy.  It is accessible online or via mobile device anywhere. That has been powerful in not only improving training, but accountability and verification for the milk processors and retailers that the farms they are buying from prioritize animal wellbeing.

We don’t audit, but all the audits require training. We are trying to help the farmers with their training and meet their requirements in a simplified and efficient way, as well as provide standardized training for employees.”

Dairy Kind started 5 years ago and has grown to training farms in 8 states. Including over 40 training resources and delivering over 30,000 trainings. If you would like to learn more about Dairy Kind please visit their website.  Also don’t forget to follow Dr. Schack on your favorite social media platform!

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

TikTok

 

Written by: Mariah Gull, M.S.