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Kaylee Borden: A local face to farming in the Finger Lakes

This article is republished here with permission from the Finger Lakes Times. 

As a young child growing up down the road from a dairy farm, Kaylee Borden took a liking to cows. In a family of mechanics and little to no agricultural experience, a local dairy farm in Seneca County made her an offer in 2017 that would ultimately change her future. When Kaylee began working on a local dairy farm feeding calves, she said she fell, “head over heels for the dairy industry.” Today, she is proudly employed by Persoon Dairy in Interlaken and believes that she didn’t choose the agriculture industry, it chose her.

Kaylee BordenAs a member of the team at Persoon Dairy, Kaylee has a variety of responsibilities including feeding calves, caring for the animals, and operating equipment for field work. With mentors Jack and Jennifer Persoon leading the way, Kaylee has been able to learn about the industry that provides for her community while challenging herself and enjoying the agricultural way of life.

“I love that I’m constantly learning.” Kaylee said when asked what she enjoys most about agriculture. “I enjoy the passion for the lifestyle including the early mornings, late nights, seven days a week, the good, and the bad. It’s by far the most rewarding thing I’ve done.”

Persoon Dairy embraces technology on the farm by utilizing robotic milkers to milk their herd of 100 cows. Kaylee is a firm believer in collaborating with other industry professionals including veterinarians and nutritionists to ensure that the herd of cows remains healthy, allowing them to produce high-quality milk for all of us to enjoy.

Farmers are an essential part of the community and being involved in organizations is one way that farmers advocate for the industry they love. Kaylee, like many others, is involved in New York Farm Bureau. As a grassroots organization, New York Farm Bureau aims to unite farmers and agricultural supporters to build strong rural connections and develop a healthy food system for communities.

Kaylee joined the Seneca County Young Farmers & Ranchers committee, a committee of New York Farm Bureau, in 2022. She also serves on the Seneca County Board of Directors and recently served as a representative at the New York Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting. As a voting delegate, Kaylee played an important role in helping to develop policy to guide the organization in advocacy efforts over the next year. Through her involvement in the Farm Bureau, Kaylee has been able to step out of her comfort zone and gain experiences that will allow her to continue to flourish as a local leader in her community.

Agriculture is a crucial part of the Finger Lakes region as it provides direct and indirect economic and workforce opportunities to the local area. As a farmer, local leader and Farm Bureau member, Kaylee knows how important it is for others to understand the industry that provides food for the community.

The farm team she is a part of works hard to ensure they are caring for the cows, the land and the environment, all while giving back to the community. She wishes that others understood the hard work and dedication it takes to farm seven days a week and 365 days a year. The beauty that she sees in welcoming a calf into the world, the accomplished feeling she gets when the first plant emerges in the spring, and the passion she has for fall harvest are all part of the rewarding efforts that Kaylee puts forth on the farm, every day.

She’s dedicated. She’s passionate. She’s loyal. Farming is a lifestyle that Kaylee embraces. Despite not having grown up on a farm, she’s a prime example of what you get when you work hard for a dream you have as a young child.

When asked what the future holds, Kaylee said, “The agriculture industry is always changing. I’m not certain what the future holds but my plan is to keep farming. I can’t imagine my life any other way. I love what I do.”

Eileen Jensen grew up on a dairy farm in Penn Yan and today is the Executive Director of the NY Animal Agriculture Coalition, where she works to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of animal agriculture. Her “Farming in the Finger Lakes” runs monthly on the Finger Lakes Times Farm Page. Contact her at jensene36@yahoo.com.

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