MANITOWOC — The future of the dairy industry could be female. For the first time in program history, Lakeshore Technical College's Dairy Herd Management class is entirely female.
"It's definitely cool to kind of break the stereotype and have that role and see more woman go into the (agriculture) industry," student Lily Charapata said.
She joined because she grew up around dairy farms and wants to develop her passion into a career.
The same goes for Emily Kroll.
"I would like to run my own dairy farm," she said.
The course is a one-year and hands on program that teaches all the students the skills they need to be successful on a dairy farm. They have cows they tend to and a birthing simulator that helps them learn how to birth a calf.
Being part of this unique all-women class is something that both students said they are proud to be a part of.
"It's definitely doable. People think it might not be. Like I’m 5’2 and very small, and I can still do the majority of the things a guy can do," Charapata said.
"A lot of times the burly jobs for the dudes they always get sent to the males. Well now that I'm here, I'm learning how to do it too," Kroll said.
While Kroll is proud to be part of this cohort, she emphasized that it doesn't matter who you are but just as long as you get the job done.
"If you're able to do it, and this is what you want to do, go for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female. It doesn't matter. I just think as long as you can get it done (and) done correctly that’s the thing that matters," Kroll said.
They are part of a growing number of women in the dairy herd management program.
“And that’s a trend that we’ve realized over the last couple of years, that more and more females are coming into our dairy herd management program," Paul Carlsen, the President of Lakeshore Technical College said.
According to the USDA in 2017, 30 percent of dairy farmers in the U.S. were women.
They enrolled in this program during a tough time for farmers across the country. Small dairy farms are vanishing. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wisconsin lost 700 dairy farmers in 2018.
It is the topic at the center of many political debates.
"Some of the farmers are really doing well," President Donald Trump told a crowd in Milwaukee in 2019. "We're over the hump, we're doing really well, and in the meantime our government has billions of dollars pouring in and that money is paid for by China."
"The farm foreclosure capital of the United States is, unfortunately, America's dairy land, Wisconsin," said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.
Despite the struggles of the industry, these ladies hope to prove the future of farming is female.