After her family and animals, fourth-generation farmer Terri Phillips loves nothing more than mentoring young farmers. She and her husband, Tom Nelson, have been involved with the agricultural program at John Bowne High School in New York City for close to a decade. The partnership involves hosting teenagers for a summer on the farm and introducing them to work with the animals. Many have never been on a working dairy farm or even close to a real cow, but some do fall in love with the life and purse college studies in agriculture.
Claude (Bog) Phillips, Terri’s great-grandfather, purchased the original farmland back in 1918 and the farm has been handed down to each generation in turn. There was never any question for Terri that she would not buy the farm from her parents, Ron and Elma. “I love my cows,” says Terri. “If you don’t, you shouldn’t be a dairy farmer.”
Terri and Tom handle most of the milking and crop work, but they also call on family and neighbors. Terri’s two sisters and their kids lend a hand and Tom’s nephews and nieces help with crops and chores. The couple is also very involved in 4-H and some of the club members pitch in. “As a kid, I used to love showing cows, and today we sponsor a few kids every year who help out on the farm while learning to care for their adopted animals,” says Terri. “It’s a great way to introduce young people to farm life and for them to develop an early relationship with the animals.”