Student Stories: Fifth-generation dairy farmer earns degree in animal science

Though she graduated this past May with a degree in animal science, Caitlyn Pool’s education began years ago, at home with her father as her teacher.

She was born into a family with a unique history: four generations of dairy farmers came before her, most of whom settled in New Jersey and southeastern Berks County, Pennsylvania.

"I've been given a legacy from my great-great-grandparents, who farmed the land so many years ago," said Pool, a native of Robesonia, Pennsylvania.

As she was growing up, her father taught her hands-on knowledge, passed down through the generations, about how to care for dairy cows and the business side of the farm.

"Growing up, literally, with cows all around me inspired me to add to my knowledge with an animal science degree from Penn State," she explained.

Throughout her college career, she enjoyed learning the modern dairy science behind the practical knowledge she learned from her father.

"Since I gained a broader perspective on the dairy industry, I see areas in which my family's farm can improve, and I plan to apply that knowledge," she said.

Eventually, she plans to return to her family farm to form a business partnership with her father, and then take over the farm when he's ready to retire. Their farm currently includes 250 dairy cows and employs a few farm hands, who are mostly family members.

"I especially love tending to newborn calves, and helping with the birthing process," she said.

Pool participated in an internship with Land O' Lakes last summer, where she was a member relations intern. She traveled across the eastern milkshed to check milk quality and ensure farmers followed pasteurization and cleanliness protocols, as well as animal welfare standards.

"It was a great experience to observe many dairy farms of varying sizes and their operations," she said.

During her time in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Pool participated in the Block and Bridle Club, Dairy Science club, Collegian Cattlewomen, and the 2014 Dairy Judging Team.

'I've built relationships within the dairy industry, learned so much about my field, participated in clubs, and met such great friends — all opportunities I wouldn't have had if I hadn't gone to college,” she said.

Pool now works as a dairy specialist for Pioneer Hi-Bred International in Auburn, New York. She is gaining valuable work experience and knowledge that she hopes to someday apply to her family’s dairy business.

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Last Updated August 17, 2016