AFRE senior learns the business side of the dairy industry

Agribusiness management student Lynn Olthof builds on her experiences from her grandparents’ dairy farm, 4-H and FFA.

MSU agribusiness management student Lynn Olthof with cow on a farm.
MSU agribusiness management student Lynn Olthof grew up around her grandparents' dairy farm.

Agribusiness management senior Lynn Olthof says agriculture has always been close to her heart from a young age, starting with childhood experiences on her grandparents’ dairy farm. By the age of five, Olthof had a Holstein calf on a halter following her around the farm.

“From as far back as I can remember, agriculture has been my passion,” she said. “My grandparents’ dairy farm was my introduction to agriculture, but it was only the beginning. I participated in 4-H and FFA, starting both as soon as I was able to, and had the opportunity to show dairy cattle at the county fair for more than a decade.”

Olthof is president of the MSU Dairy Club and a 2018 graduate of the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) dairy management certificate program. She also interned with the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Nutrien Ag Solutions and Cargill Animal Nutrition.

Additionally, Olthof is one of the 2020 CANR Alumni Association Scholarship awardees. She is also a recipient of the 2020 Lallemand Forward Scholarship given by Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Name: Lynn Olthof

Hometown: Ferrysburg, Michigan

Major: Agribusiness management major through the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics

Expected graduation date: Spring 2021

Why did you choose your major and why MSU?

I chose MSU because they are the one and only agriculture school in Michigan, and I was really excited about what the Institute of Agricultural Technology dairy management certificate program offered.

Following that certificate program, I decided to transfer into the agribusiness management bachelor’s program because I wanted to gain a greater perspective of the business side of the industry. I felt that having that agribusiness background would provide me with more opportunities throughout my career.

Who or what inspired your interest in agribusiness management?

I grew up on my grandparents’ dairy farm and was involved within the dairy industry from a young age. The dairy industry was not just a job, but my calling and the only place where I wanted to build my career.

My grandparents have always been huge supporters of me in agriculture and provided me with many experiences that really cultivated my passion for the dairy cow. Everything from owning cattle, bailing hay, milking cows and showing cattle at the county fair, this is where my excitement for agriculture was cultivated.

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?

One of my best experiences at MSU so far has been the opportunity to be involved with the MSU Dairy Judging Team. Being a member of the MSU Ag Tech Dairy Judging Team in 2018, our team had the opportunity to travel to Europe for two weeks and tour dairies in Scotland and Ireland, learning more about the European dairy industry and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Although my final judging season has been cancelled due to COVID-19, I will be forever thankful for the knowledge, experiences, and memories that the program and our coach Dr. Joe Domecq has provided for me to continue to grow.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?

The best thing about being a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at MSU is having a family as soon as you step on campus.

There is so much support within the college, and we have some of the best professors who are going to go above and beyond to help you be successful. I could not have asked for a better college experience, and I am incredibly thankful for the CANR. We are one family and that helps to make the campus feel smaller.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

Get involved! There are so many clubs, activities and organizations, which help to expand your network and provide experiences and memories you will never forget.

Don’t take anything for granted. Your time at MSU goes so fast. Take advantage of every opportunity you have because you never know when that will be gone.

What are your future plans?

I plan on pursuing my master’s degree in dairy nutrition and then hope to serve producers of the Michigan dairy industry, helping them meet both their farm and nutritional goals.

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