Laura Daniels: Community Creator and Founder of Dairy Girl Network 

“I knew right then and there I was going to spend the rest of my life with cows.” The epiphany came to Laura Daniels at the Kenosha County Fair on the day she won showmanship with the help of her Holstein named Frisky.

The spark she found that day carried her through decades of success in the dairy industry. Daniels has spent time as a dairy cattle nutritionist, entrepreneur, coach, speaker, dairy farmer, and as the founder and current president of Dairy Girl Network.

Daniels spoke with Ever.Ag, discussing everything from her time with Frisky, the winning Holstein, to her varied present roles and how she works to intentionally build community.

Dairy from the very beginning

Having grown up on a dairy farm, Daniels praised her parents for their willingness to involve her in important decisions, such as choosing the breedings bulls when she was in high school.

“They let my brother and I have our own herd of about 40 cows for a while,” she said.

After receiving an invaluable hands-on education from her parents, Daniels attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied dairy science and life sciences communication. During college, she continued her championship hot streak, started at the Kenosha County Fair, and won “a dairy judging contest [and] the national agri-marketing contest.”
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A trailblazer for women

Following her success in college, Daniels pursued a typical career for her major by accepting a job at Cargill Animal Nutrition. At the time, it was not a typical pathway for women.

“I was the only woman in North America doing dairy cattle nutrition,” Daniels said.

By taking this position, Daniels became a trailblazer for women in the dairy industry.

Daniels revealed that today’s Cargill Animal Nutrition’s team is very close to equity.

“I’m so incredibly proud to have been a small part of that long ago,” Daniels said.

Answering the need for support

As Daniels progressed in her career, she took two more corporate jobs and gained experience in branding, technology services, and management. While maintaining a corporate career, Daniels bought a dairy and immersed herself in what she proclaims to be “the best job ever” – dairy farming.

As she worked on her farm, Daniels recognized the dichotomy in the dairy industry of loving your job while also experiencing the isolation that happens when you’re dairy farming or a service provider.

Daniels experienced this issue herself.

“That’s when I started Dairy Girl Network because I could see how much I needed the support of people who were doing the work that I was doing,” Daniels said.

Connecting women in the dairy industry

Today, the mission on the Dairy Girl Network’s website reads, “The Dairy Girl Network connects all women of the dairy industry, encouraging ideas and camaraderie in an effort to achieve personal and professional development.”

Daniels stays true to her vision of eradicating isolation in the dairy industry by providing a community for women. Dairy Girl Network hosts events, holds webinars, creates a forum for daily discussions, and more.

After successfully building the Dairy Girl Network, Daniels realized that she needed to keep going towards the people’s side of the industry and leave behind her technical work in dairy cattle nutrition.

Creating more community

For her next endeavor, Daniels started Hitch Pin, a consulting company where she works with dairy farms across the country. Through Hitch Pin, Daniels creates a community for personal development, leadership training modules, 1:1 coaching, and other services that enhance the dairy industry.

After balancing her work as a dairy farmer with Dairy Girl Network and Hitch Pin, Daniels decided to sell her dairy cows three years ago. Daniels’ dairy farm had naturally become a community within itself, and Daniels did not want to see it dissolve. Because of that, Daniels started a home cleaning company to continue employing the women who previously milked her cows. Not only did this new business benefit families in her extended community, but it kept another community intact.

Daniels’ decision so many years ago to spend the rest of her life with cows has grown into a lifetime dedication to the dairy industry and supporting the people working in it.

Ever.Ag recognizes Laura Daniels as an inspiring woman in dairy.