Emily Hanlin mugshot-2
By Emily Hanlin
Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau
BELVIDERE – Bailey Hart, of Belvidere, has lived in town her whole life. She never had connections to the farm until she met Emily Irwin in the 6th grade.
Emily is the daughter of Mark and Melissa Irwin. The Irwin family operates a dairy cattle farm outside of Belvidere. During the girls’ freshman year of high school, they both became members of the FFA.
“When we started doing FFA and Ag classes together, we became best friends,” Hart said. “If I hadn’t become such good friends with Emily, I really think my life would look much different.”
Hart gained an interest in agriculture after becoming so involved in Ag classes in high school. After becoming a member of the FFA, she joined 4H.
“I joined 4-H when I was 16-years-old,” said Hart. “Almost 8 years after most people start. Although I had a late start into the 4-H world, I gained more appreciation for helping others and a sense of community service. Also, there were many leadership opportunities that I was able to be a part of that has helped me build confidence over the years in my leadership skills.”
However, because Hart lived in town, she could not start a large scale dairy cattle 4-H and FFA project like her friend Emily did. But, she was able to help her friend out as she went to various county fairs and showed her cattle. Hart proved that she was passionate, excited, as well as responsible when it came to watching and helping her friend show dairy cattle. This is when the Irwin’s got the idea to help Hart show her own dairy calf.
“They saw how excited I was and they let me start showing with them,” Hart said.
Hart was given several jobs around the farm, and in return, the Irwin’s gave her a calf to show. Hart fell in love with her calf, Flash, and showing cattle.

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With the help of the Irwin family, Hart has started her own herd of registered Holstein cattle. Her herd includes: Flash, born Sept. 8, 2011, and her two calves Fancy (heifer calf, born Dec. 1, 2013) and Flicker (heifer calf, born Dec. 22, 2014.) This past December, Flash, had another calf, Flashy.
When asked about future plans with her cattle Hart replied, “I plan to always remain a part of the dairy industry since it has become so much of who I am!”
“I have learned many things from showing dairy cattle,” Hart said, “but the most valuable lesson I have taken from it is that winning is NOT everything, it is all about the experience you get from being a team with your animal and giving it your all!”
To the Irwin family, Bailey would like to say, “Thank You! You took me in as part of your family, taught me about dairy farming and showing, and even provided me with a calf to grow my personal herd with. The Irwin’s are an amazingly kind and generous family and I am so lucky to be their “adopted daughter” since it’s the closest I’ve been to being a Farmer’s Daughter! If there were better words to describe how grateful I am for the Irwin’s changing my life than Thank You I would most definitely use them.”
In July 2015, Hart was chosen to represent Illinois as the Illinois Holstein Dutchess. She presented a speech to a panel of judges titled “Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice…” as well as answered questions from the judges and had a personal interview.
Some of her duties during her reign include advocating for the Dairy Industry in person and on social media, attending Illinois Holstein activities, and passing out ribbons and awards at shows.
“This experience is one like no other,” Hart said, “and I am proud to represent an organization and industry that has already done so much for me.”
For other girls who did not grow up on farms, but are interested in what the agriculture industry can do for them, Hart said, “Nothing is impossible! Follow your heart, dreams, and passions, and somewhere along the line you will achieve these dreams. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that “You can’t because you are a girl!”
The reality is that anybody can do anything as long as they are willing to work hard and never give up.”
The experience Hart has had so far has guided her towards pursuing a degree in Agriculture Education.
“I have found, along the way, an ever-burning passion to share the truth about agriculture with as many people that will listen,” Hart said. “So becoming a High School Agriculture teacher will allow me to do that and spread the word even further through my students.”

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