Diversifying Dairy

Just a few years ago, Emily Mullen’s family was faced with a difficult decision. It was time to sell the dairy herd or make a hefty financial investment into their almost 125-year-old farm.

Armed with real-world experience, an associate degree in dairy science from Ohio State ATI, and exposure to new ideas, Mullen got to work. Located in Wooster, Ohio, ATI is part of CFAES.

The Mullen Dairy & Creamery, located in Okeana, now provides southwest Ohio with 25 varieties of flavored milk, cow’s milk soap and lotion, and drinkable yogurt. 

“When I was at college, I realized I had to be different,” Mullen said. “As a society, we are entering an era where consumers care more about what goes into their food.” Mullen’s story is just one example of how CFAES graduates are putting their degrees to work, many choosing to work for their family’s farm.

In fact, 15% of ATI graduates who entered the workforce returned to a family business, while 88% of ATI associate degree graduates reported employment within the state of Ohio, according to a 2022 CFAES graduation survey.

Sharing about dairy farming is one of Mullen’s favorite things. 

The 2019 graduate and former recipient of the Catalpadale Bristol Dairy Scholarship has a robust social media page dedicated to educating her customers. 

“I have the opportunity to share a story that so few people have a chance to see firsthand. We have super-cool jobs and take that for granted.”

Her biggest challenge was overcoming doubt.

“Being the third of four daughters of course people told me I couldn’t farm full time. I had to push really hard to overcome that stereotype. I was fortunate my dad believed in me.”

Mullen recently began building a new educational facility on the farm. She’s also updating operational facilities and hopes to produce ice cream soon.

“Average is over,” Mullen said. “If you want to ensure your stakehold in this industry, you have to diversify.”