When you ask Jim and Kristie Docheff about their commitment to agriculture, a strong sense of continuity underscores their answers, and understandably so. There have been two constants in the life of the Docheff family, CSU and dairy, and their commitment to both is nothing short of astounding. Three generations have now attended Colorado State University—almost exclusively in the College of Agricultural Sciences—and an even more impressive five generations have worked in the Colorado dairy industry.
“I strongly believe our grandchildren will go into it,” said Kristie Docheff. “We’re one of the oldest family dairy farmers in the state.”
Owners of Blue Sky Dairy in Mead, Colorado, the Docheffs maintain upwards of 600 cows to produce “the world’s safest, cheapest and most abundant food supply,” according to the company mantra. The couple met in the 1980s while attending CSU, and after graduating, entered into the family industry in 1987.
“I love cows,” says Jim Docheff. “And the fact that every day you do something, you’re going to see results. It’s a lot of hard work but at the end of the day you can tell you’ve done something.”
While that immediate gratification was one of the reasons the Docheffs continued the family trade, there’s also a commitment to future generations driving their passion for dairy. Those generations, of course, include their children and grandchildren, but also students who have passed through the halls of CSU over the years.
As highly-engaged alumni, the Docheffs are a regular fixture at any Department of Animal Sciences event, not to mention CSU football and basketball games. The couple credits the department for encouraging them to go into a life of dairy production, and also credits it as a consistent ally over the years.
“They are part of our team,” said Jim Docheff. “[Extension dairy specialist] Noa [Ivette Roman-Muniz] is integral in our business, and I’ve known [department head] Keith Belk my entire life—he’s just always there with answers.”
The Docheffs’ son, Joshua, also acts as the department’s dairy judging coach, and often brings students down to the farm to learn about dairy management, which is one of the many ways the Docheffs engage with students and younger generations. It’s also not uncommon to see Kristie Docheff at university events helping students network to find jobs in the industry. The family also invites field day tours of students so they can “open them up to all the different arms that agriculture touches, and jobs they can go into,” said Kristie Docheff.
To the family, this all boils down to generational thinking, and how they can inspire the next wave of young professionals to get excited about the dairy industry.
“To me, it’s always about the next generation,” said Kristie Docheff. “We go to these events, meet these young kids and it’s so exciting to see them grow and develop and want to be in agriculture. To see young people be involved and want to be part of our community—we fuel them and they fuel us.”