MANCHESTER – After four years of being away at MSU, Katelyn Horning has decided to return home to her family’s six-generation dairy farm in Manchester.
Slated to graduate in June with a double-major in animal science and agri-business management, Horning studied abroad twice. Her first trip included several stops in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and her second trip was to Vietnam. Both trips deepened her appreciation for American sustainable agricultural practices.
While at MSU, Horning served as Senior Dairy Ambassador and belonged to the Dairy Club and Dairy Judging Team. With her parents and both sets of grandparents all MSU graduates, Horning’s college career was steeped in tradition. However, when it was decision time regarding re-integration into the family dairy operation, her family encouraged her to try her hand elsewhere before making the decision.
Reinforcing that was a speaker in one of Horning’s college classes who said doing something in life that you don’t want to do can be as instructive as doing something you want to do, because it helps to rule out what won’t work for a person.
Horning concurs. After interning last summer in sales for an animal care product supplier, she decided that line of work wasn’t for her. She missed the direct interaction with dairy cattle. That realization, perhaps more than anything, informed her decision to return home.
Horning describes herself as very scientific-minded when it comes to dairy issues. As someone whose questions regularly start with “how” and “why,” she hopes her sense of curiosity, attention to detail and record-keeping abilities will serve her well back on Horning Farms. Her plan is to ease her way into a permanent role in the family business through performing dairy duties where most needed.
“My mom says that when I’ve been home, the conversation is so much more about the cows,” Horning said. “Clearly, the family dairy tradition is something I want to carry on.” Cleaning her room at her childhood home recently in anticipation of her summer return, she came across a career essay she had written as a third-grader.
“It said that when I grow up, I want to take over the family farm,” Horning laughed. “So I guess maybe coming home was my plan all along.”