MADISON, Wis. – Leah Hurtgen Ziemba brings technical and practical skills to her role as an adviser to the Dairy Girl Network.

“Leah is so sound in her technical area of expertise and she understands the ins and outs of farming,” said Kristy Pagel, who serves with Ziemba on the organization’s board.

Ziemba is an attorney at Michael Best and Friedrich LLP, a law firm in Madison. She represents dairy-farmer and food-manufacturer clients as well as co-chairs the firm’s agribusiness, food-processing and -distribution group.

She helped the Dairy Girl Network develop its bylaws and helps with its filings for nonprofit tax status. She also reviews contracts for events the organization holds at various venues, and serves as an adviser about legal issues.

“I serve as a sounding board when various issues arise,” she said.

Ziemba was raised on a family dairy farm and understands the practical side of farming, Pagel said. Ziemba’s parents, Leo and Karen Hurtgen, own and operate Hurtgenlea Holsteins near Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The Hurtgens and their son, Adam Hurtgen, milk 150 cows.

Ziemba and her husband, Tim Ziemba, own a farmette near Cambridge, Wisconsin. They have 35 calves and heifers on their 10-acre farm, and milk cows on a neighboring farm. Ziemba doesn’t work on the farm on a daily basis. But she said she and her husband want to continue the dairying tradition for their children – Claire, 5, and Luke, 2. Tim Ziemba grew up on a dairy farm in New York.

The couple met while both were attending Cornell University, where she earned in 2001 a bachelor’s degree in animal science. After graduation she worked for two years at the New York Farm Bureau. There she was a specialist for policy research and analysis before becoming the organization’s assistant director of public policy.

She then earned in 2006 a law degree at the Syracuse University College of Law. She worked at the law firm of Nixon Peabody in Rochester, New York.

She and her husband had purchased dairy cows from his parents when they retired; the younger couple then began farming near Rochester. But in 2011 they decided to move to Wisconsin to be closer to her family.

“I was excited about the opportunities in Wisconsin,” she said about being able to combine her love of the dairy business with her legal training.

The couple moved their cows from New York to her parents’ farm. Tim Ziemba farmed with the Hurtgens. But Leah said her commute from Elkhorn to Madison, which was more than an hour each way, became too difficult. So she and her husband sold a number of their cows and moved to near Cambridge.

“We converted an old tobacco-drying barn into a heifer barn,” she said.

The Ziembas show their cattle at local, state and national shows.

“Tim loves it,” she said.

She enjoys the opportunity to be involved in the dairy industry by serving as an adviser to the Dairy Girl Network, she said.

“You won’t find a more dedicated group of hard-working people than those in the dairy industry,” she said. “It takes a special person to do this job and it’s not for the faint of heart. I love it when I can partner with a business to help achieve their goals, and it’s fun to work in an industry I know.”

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Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.