College students produce podcasts about local dairy farms
MIDDLEBURY — “I think the dairy business is a lot like a roller coaster,” said Phil Livingston, one of the nine Addison County dairy farmers interviewed by a team of Middlebury College students as part of their senior capstone work.
From these interviews, the five students produced a podcast highlighting stories from the farmers concerning their history of working on the land, the challenges they face, and what strategies they are using to weather the current dairy climate. The podcast, “CowTalk: The Future of Vermont Dairy,” is an effort to share the farmers’ narratives with the greater Vermont community.
“People don’t realize how complex dairy farming is. The farmers are constantly being pulled in so many directions and it was really remarkable to talk to them about their challenges firsthand,” said Heather Tourgee, a senior who was one of the students who worked on the podcast. The other four students, also seniors, were Maggie Danna, Elaine Forbush, Kristina Ohl and Jenevra Wetmore.
Dairy farming has long been a backbone of the Vermont economy and as such remains one of the state’s dominant cultural forces. In their Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, students partnered with various agencies and individuals, including Ryan Patch from the Agency of Agriculture, to delve into the most challenging and exciting aspects of the dairy industry in Vermont today.
In the first episode, farmers speak about the ways in which dairy culture is changing and their plans for the future. The second episode dives into farmers’ stories about the hardest parts of their jobs, from 2 a.m. milking shifts to competition with international dairy markets. The third episode concludes the podcast with tales of innovation and how farmers have creatively navigated the ins-and-outs of the industry.
All podcast episodes, as well as further information about this project can be found at online go.middlebury.edu/cowtalk.