Following In Her Father’s Footsteps

Ag Student Story
Lakeshore Technical College student Emily Stevens, her pet cow Blondie, and Emily’s dad, Lakeshore graduate John Stevens. Emily is enrolled in the Dairy Management program, the same program her dad graduated from in 1984. They both chose to attend Lakeshore, 400 miles away from their Indiana home. The photo was taken on their farm in Indiana.

Emily Stevens is putting her own twist on the cliché “Like father, like son.” 

The Lakeshore Technical College Dairy Herd Management program student decided to follow in her father’s footsteps by not only pursuing a career in the dairy industry like he did, but also at the same college he did – six and a half hours, 400 miles away from her home in Milton, Indiana.

The 2022 graduate of Connersville Sr. High School loves the dairy industry. It’s what she grew up in on her family’s farm where they milked 120 cows. 

“I understand cows more than I do people sometimes,” says Emily.

“Emily was in the dairy barn since she came home from the hospital,” says her dad, who was not surprised when Emily expressed her interest in pursuing a career in the dairy industry.

Emily originally thought she wanted to be a veterinarian, though figured she’d get bored. She often found herself bored sitting in her high school classrooms learning, wanting to do something hands-on. One day while talking with her dad about her future, he told her about the great education experience he had at Lakeshore Technical College. It was then Emily decided to follow his path.

Born and raised in Indiana, John Stevens is a 1984 graduate of Lakeshore’s Dairy Herd Management program. John’s family raised cows and hogs. John favored working with the cows so much that his parents encouraged him to go to school for something related to cows. They found an ad for Lakeshore’s dairy programs in an issue of Hoard’s Dairyman, a national farming magazine, and made the trip to Cleveland to visit campus. 

John was accepted at Lakeshore and got connected with Edward Klessig at Saxon Homestead Farm, near Cleveland, for an internship and housing. After graduating, he moved back to Indiana to work on a farm close to his home. John later bought his own farm where he and his family milked cows for many years. As with most industries over time, things changed. Today, John’s farm focus is cash grain and cattle.

John appreciated all the Klessig family did for him and kept in touch after leaving Wisconsin. After Emily decided to attend Lakeshore, John called Carl Klessig to share the news that his former intern’s daughter was going to follow in her dad’s footsteps. 

Learning Like Dad, Interning Like Dad

Emily started at Lakeshore this fall. In addition to attending the same school her dad did, she is also interning at Saxon Homestead Farm where she is enjoying working 25-30 hours a week. Like the Klessig family did for John, they also arranged housing for Emily. Emily says she does pretty much anything they need her to do, which is mostly milking and scraping. She has also helped with a few calves and treated sick cows.

“The variety that Saxon has and being outdoors is awesome,” says Emily. “Also, the work environment is great, everyone looks out for everyone and works together, because dairy farming isn’t easy but having a good team makes it a lot easier.”

Along with getting credit for her internship this fall, Emily is taking other courses including Dairy Cattle Management, Nutrition Principles, and Animal Records. 

Wisconsin Dairy Industry Is More Modern, Offers Better Opportunities 

According to Emily, the dairy industry in Wisconsin is more modern than what she sees in Indiana and what she had on her home farm. “We didn’t have computerized records and/or any monitoring system, head locks, or a freestall barn.” She also says that here in Wisconsin we have far more involvement with people that consume the products produced and understanding among those in the industry.

John says the industry overall and the education needed are very different from his earlier days. “There’s a lot more technology and dairies are so much bigger than years ago.”
Emily plans on completing her Dairy Herd Management technical diploma and graduating in spring. From there, she wants to work in the dairy industry, possibly find a niche she enjoys and learn more about it.

“I might go back {to Indiana} for a little while,” Emily says. “Eventually I want to move and stay in Wisconsin because there’s a lot more and better employment opportunities.” 
We predict a long and successful career in the dairy industry for Emily wherever she makes her home. And we’re hoping she makes her home right here in our lakeshore area.

For information about Lakeshore Technical College’s agriculture programs, visit