Netherlands native finds home at SDSU, plans for life-long career in dairy industry


Emma Anderson, Lifestyles Reporter

Flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Sanne de Bruijn and her family traveled from their home in the Netherlands to the United States in 2004 to pursue their love for dairy.

De Bruijn, a junior double majoring in dairy production and dairy manufacturing, moved around several times within the U.S. and eventually settled in Michigan, then she left for South Dakota for her higher education experience.

“My family originally had plans to start a dairy farm here in South Dakota, which is why I started looking into schools out here,” de Bruijn said.

However, different opportunities arose and the family ended up not moving and instead stayed in Michigan. Meanwhile, de Bruijn still had her sights set on South Dakota State University.  

“I just really enjoyed the dairy science program here because I could do both dairy production and dairy manufacturing,” de Bruijn said. “Basically, I can learn about both the farm side and the processing side.”

Since coming to SDSU, de Bruijn has kept herself busy serving on multiple committees and participating in various agriculture-related organizations.

She is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, the vice president for the SDSU Dairy Club, a member of the Dairy Products Judging Team, a South Dakota Dairy ambassador and she participates in Agriculture Future of America.

“Because of these organizations I have gotten to promote opportunities within the programs in the College of Agriculture here at SDSU,” de Bruijn said. “I’ve gotten to travel to area high schools in the Midwest and have talked to prospective students to try and recruit more agriculture students. ”

She also helps with Junior Day and Senior Day on campus, as well as focusing on personal and professional growth within the dairy and food industry.

“I have also gotten to help plan educational events around the area, such as Campus-Wide Ag Day, where I put together a booth to teach kids and consumers more about dairy. We just try to get more connections within the industry and students” de Bruijn said.

Her personal favorite is serving as a South Dakota Dairy Ambassador.

“I get to share what I love with everyone because of this position,” de Bruijn said. “I get to talk to everyone from the consumers to the farmers and just express what I love about dairy.”

While she has definitely taken on a passion for dairy and agriculture here in the United States through her studies and organizations at SDSU, de Bruijn also recognizes how vastly different those industries are compared to those in her birthplace.

“Because it is a very small country, the operations are also very small in the Netherlands. The climate is also different so feeding practices are not the same either,” she said. “Here in the U.S., everything is much bigger and there seems to be a lot more room for farming year-round.”

De Bruijn said unless a great opportunity arises, she probably would not move back to the Netherlands and wants to stay in the Midwest.

Her dream job is to someday own her own dairy farm, breed cows and then produce their own dairy products straight from the farm.

“I just love everything about the dairy industry. It seems really big, but it is actually a small tight-knit community,” de Bruijn said.