Very Berry, Very Dairy

Name: Rachel Botta

Year: junior

Major: animal science concentration II (production & management)

Hometown: Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Hobbies: "Kayaking since I just learned how, running if I ever get the chance, showing cows, playing The Sims 3"

Favorite Song Right now: 'Work from Home' – Fifth Harmony

Walk us through an average day for you.

"Ok, let’s say it’s a Monday. Wake up (flawless) at 4am. Roll out of bed into boots. Get the cows milked by 6:30 if I'm killin' it. Nap afterward if I'm lucky, do extra work with sick animals or broken machinery if I'm luckier. Make it to class sooner or later, learn about animal behavior and personal finance, and eventually come home to my roommates to debrief the day's events. Nap some because God knows I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Usually I make the poor decision to run to Taco Bell or Sonic between the hours of 12 and 2 am."

How do you balance school work with all of your work duties?

"Very carefully. It’s tempting to prioritize work over education at times, and I constantly remind myself to put as much effort into school as I do into work. But as my boss and my vet always say, in the end, we’re here to learn, not to be dairy workers."

Favorite part about working in the dairy?

"I think my favorite thing is the relationships that I’ve built during my past 3 years here. Relationships with coworkers, employers, and the cows – they’ve all taught me so much more about the world and myself than I ever asked for. Learning to communicate and collaborate with all different kinds of personalities (both of people and animals) has really been a joy and will stick with me for the rest of my life."

Least favorite?

"The hardest thing about working with animals is that not all days are rewarding. When a cow is sick and you’ve done everything you could possibly do to help her, it hits you hard. But you just have to go to bed knowing that you did your best, and get up the next day hoping you’ve learned something and striving to do better."

Do you plan on carrying on your dairy experience after graduation?

"Yes! I don’t know yet in what capacity because I don’t see myself milking cows every day for the rest of my life, but I also can’t picture a life without them at this point. I really have a passion for milk quality and for educating people about cows, so we’ll see where that takes me."