By Alexandra Lavy
Agricultural Communication major
This summer I had the opportunity to work with an amazing and unique company, Moo U Guided Livestock Tours. Moo U was created in 2007 by Cal Poly alumna Jeannene Xanthus. Each summer, the company, based out of Celeste, Texas, is hired by fairs all over the country to give free educational tours of the livestock at the fair.
The purpose of Moo U is to inform people about livestock, from how the animals are raised, to all the ways that animal byproducts are used in our lives. Our presence at the fairs provides the opportunity to communicate with regular, everyday consumers, and explain where food comes from. As an Agricultural Communication major, I love that I’m able to be a voice and educate the public about the livestock industry. We focused on several main production animals including dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits.
During my internship, I worked at three different fairs: The California State Fair in Sacramento, The Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, and the Los Angeles County Fair. An average day at work usually consisted of five tours, each lasting about 40 minutes. As a tour guide, I was asked a lot of crazy questions, but those only made the tours more fun. Depending on the audiences’ questions, I cantered to their area of interest. No two tours went the same. At the Erie County Fair, the booth set up was located in a large barn with all sorts of newborn animals including the birthing center for expecting dairy cows. That was a great opportunity to educate people on all the different animals’ birthing processes, especially in the dairy industry.
This internship really put me out of my comfort zone for two main reasons. Firstly, I’m very introverted, and second, I didn’t grow up with any livestock experience. Additionally, I’m typically a really shy person. Before my internship, I could barely speak in front of my communications class, but now I’m fine speaking in front of a group of 20 strangers, and even approaching onlookers at the fair to talk to them about livestock. Growing up, my family farmed walnuts, rice, prunes, almonds, and some pistachios, not livestock. From growing up in a rural area and spending a year at Cal Poly, I knew a little bit about each animal, but through this experience, I’ve learned more than I ever thought about the livestock industry.
I’ve met so many amazing people from working with Moo U this summer, and have made some great connections. Along with becoming more knowledgeable in the livestock and agriculture industry as a whole, I’ve built self-confidence and grown in my public speaking skills. Overall, this internship was a great opportunity and learning experience.