| Published: May 03, 2021

Where Are They Now? Emily Shaw

April is National Intern Awareness Month and throughout the month we will interview past Horizon Farm Credit interns. We recently spoke with Emily Shaw, founder of Dairy Girl Fitness. Emily shared about herself and her passions in dairy and fitness along with reflections on her Horizon internship experience.

Let’s hear more about you and Dairy Girl Fitness. Tell our listeners about your journey in life and what you do now.

This is one of my favorite things to talk about. I'm Emily Shaw. I'm 26 years old and I currently live in north central Florida, but I am a Pennsylvania dairy girl. I grew up in central Pennsylvania and was involved in the dairy industry. We had a show herd at our house, raising show heifers. I was heavily involved in 4-H, FFA and National Holstein Association. Just about anything I could be involved in with my siblings, we were.

Along with that, we also played sports year round. We played baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and dance. Again, just staying very active year round. We were always on the go, and that's where a lot of my passions for the dairy industry and the fitness industry came from and then allowing those passions to grow as I got older.

For college, I went to Penn State University. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in ag business management. While I was also there, I was involved in the Penn State Dairy Science Club, Alpha Zeta, which is a co-ed ag fraternity, and Ag Student Council. Again, just really trying to get involved in any way with dairy and ag. I was also on the collegiate dairy judging team.

I started weightlifting at Penn State, because let's be real, I was not qualified enough to join a D-1 sports team at Penn State. But I still wanted to be active. This is where weightlifting and becoming more interested in the fitness side of things came from.

After graduating from Penn State in 2017, I moved south to Georgia. A couple months later, my boyfriend and I moved to Florida. We've now been here three years.

There’s a lot of ag in the south, but there's not as much dairy in Florida as there is in Pennsylvania. I was having a little bit of a tougher time trying to find that dream career that so many kids are looking for right out of college. I really wanted to be involved in dairy promotion.

In March of 2018, I started my Dairy Girl Fitness Instagram page. This was my way to combine my passions for dairy promotion and the fitness industry. Through Dairy Girl Fitness I help debunk myths people have about the nutrition of dairy, or animal products, about how animals are taken care of, and really just bring in a lot of stories and a lot of information about the dairy industry to people interested in fitness.

That eventually grew into me being able to go full-time with Dairy Girl Fitness over the past year. I have a one-on-one coaching business. It's all online personal training. I also offer group coaching, and I have a couple of other different things going on, but that's really where my main focus falls with the Dairy Girl Fitness staff.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting Dairy Girl Fitness? What has been the most challenging part?

There's so many I can really think of it, but I think the coolest part about starting Dairy Girl Fitness is the connections in the community I've been able to build. When I started Dairy Girl Fitness as an Instagram page, I didn't know what it was going to lead into. I don't even know if, at that point, I was able to imagine that I could grow this into a full-time thing and grow it into what it is now.

Being able to make an impact in a way that feels really good to me and connect so many people from different parts of the country, different sides of farming - the people that consume it and the people that produce it - it's just been really, really incredible to be able to create these conversations and have conversations and bring so many people together through the community I created.

One of the most rewarding parts is when someone reaches out to me and they're like, "Hey, because of you or because of your posts, I'm not scared of eating dairy anymore.” Or they say, “I'm not scared of GMOs anymore."

They’re much more open and receptive to listening to farmers and understanding where we're coming from, rather than jump to conclusions.

Just being able to feel like I'm making an impact that I want to be and getting to connect with so many women has been one of the most rewarding parts.

Along with that, though, it is challenging, right? It's not just in being an entrepreneur, but I think in any realm of life or any career people might find themselves in, sometimes it's hard to feel like, "Hey, am I doing enough? Am I doing the right thing? Am I going to make this a sustainable thing?" So sometimes falling into that comparison trap or self-doubt.

I think a lot of people find themselves in that position at one point or another in their life, and sometimes think it's wrong or think there's something wrong with them. But no matter what, I think a lot of people may deal with imposter syndrome, but the most important thing is to push through that and know if you do feel scared, if you do feel a little bit uncomfortable, very often that means that you are doing big things, that you are doing the right thing.

It's so important to surround yourself with like-minded people that are going to really support you and elevate you even on the hard days.

Your experience as an Horizon intern in 2016 was a bit different than what you do today. However, could you reflect on that experience – what did you learn and how do you think it helped you get to where you are?

Pretty much everything I've done is a little bit different than what I've done now. I can say, I never imagined going to school for ag business management with a specialization in dairy science and then becoming an online personal trainer and Instagram influencer.  That was never necessarily the plan, but I think every single aspect of my youth, college and my internships provided so many different experiences and perspectives that have truly helped me in what I'm doing now.

With Horizon, one of the most awesome parts was going to visit customers on their farms and seeing different types of ag with different loan officers. Sitting in on those conversations and the problem-solving was eye-opening to see different ways people were thinking and looking at things.

I believe that helped in my communication skills. I became more confident in what I know and contributed to conversations, even though sometimes it could be a little bit nerve wracking going into these conversations with people who are doing very well or are just much more experienced than you, and think you have value to add.

Plus, we were able to go into the Headquarters of Horizon, and a few time throughout the summer. We interacted with Horizon leadership and had engaging conversations. I remember one of the meetings, we were talking about dairy and agriculture and how, as youth, we can continue to promote what we're doing. Having that conversation reminded me how passionate I was about dairy and ag promotion.

Being able to have those conversations with people that were very successful, doing well in their industry, and even within the company, was something that really allowed me to feel comfortable, to push myself, to challenge myself and think outside the box.

As we wrap up today, share any advice you have for young people who are interested in pursuing their passions.

My biggest piece of advice to anyone is you're never going to feel ready. Stop waiting to feel ready.

You may always think there's something else you should be doing, or you need to get one more thing done, but it's always going to be nerve wracking. It may always be a little bit scary, but that means you need to do it anyways. As long as you're falling forward, you're going to keep moving forward.

One of the biggest things is not thinking that you have to fit a certain mold or a certain box. I mean, honestly, I never really knew how I was going to combine dairy and fitness, and it felt kind of weird. It felt a little bit awkward at first. I wondered if it was even going to work.

As long as you're passionate and truly care about what you're doing and the people you're helping, there doesn't need to be a certain path, or it doesn't need to follow a certain thing anyone else is doing to move forward and be successful.

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