The Leubner sisters are using social media to connect with and educate a younger generation of could-be farmers.
The NY Farm Girls want to show the world what modern-day dairy farming looks like.
Frustrated by the narrative that paints dairy farmers as cruel and uncaring, the three sisters—Evelyn (23), Claudia (21) and Jojo Leubner (17)—are using their social media savvy to showcase their day-to-day lives on their Marrietta, New York dairy farm.
The sisters, part of the Gen Z generation that has lived their entire lives online, started accounts on prominent platforms such as in Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. Their goal is to share their farm experiences in hopes of mitigating misconceptions about the dairy industry—or “AGvocating” for their farming practices, as the NY Farm Girls accounts put it.
“We were scrolling through social media and we realized there are so many bad things out there about farming, especially dairy farming,” says Evelyn, the oldest sister. The trio didn’t see content that reflected how, as farmers, they care for their cows and crops or the level of work they put in to make sure both thrive.
“We were like, ‘Wait, we farm every day. All this bad stuff about farming, especially dairy farming, is not what’s happening,’” says Evelyn. So the sisters decided to put all their cow and crop pictures to use and started posting on Instagram regularly in 2015, aiming to crush the “all dairy farmers are evil” stereotype they kept encountering online.
Their following grew slowly at first. It wasn’t until a few years and a TikTok account later, in 2019, that the sisters started noticing higher engagement. Viewers can follow along as the young farmers care for cattle, plant and harvest crops, as well as operate machinery. But they also get a look at the sisters’ lives and thoughts outside of agriculture. The girls don’t shy away from personal posts, such as videos that offer a glimpse into Evelyn’s recent wedding, as well as honest reactions to the negativity they sometimes encounter on social platforms.
As with most viral content online, the sisters put their twist on social media trends, but they also showcase daily duties around the farm. With heartfelt, often vulnerable captions concerning the inner thoughts and feelings of three women working a farm, the sisters have cultivated a core group of followers. Now, the NY Farm Girls have nearly 150,000 followers on Instagram and more than 650,000 followers on TikTok, along with a popular YouTube channel and even their own line of merchandise.
Each sister has her own niche on the fourth-generation farm their family has been running for around 100 years, as well as online.
While all three started farming young by helping out in the calf barn, their roles on the farm have evolved. Evelyn, who studied animal science at SUNY Cobleskill, has a way with cows and words. She works as one of the herd managers, covering pretty much all things health related for the 500 cows on the farm. Virtually, she is responsible for much of the writing that goes into each post.
Claudia is on camera and on crops. Comfortable talking on screen, you’ll see her often in YouTube and TikTok videos. She’s focused on working the fields—including 1,800 acres of wheat, soybeans, hay and corn—doing plantings and harvests, as well as growing pumpkins for the family’s agritourism business, a 70-acre pumpkin patch down the road from the main farm.
The youngest, Jojo, is a junior in high school. But that doesn’t stop her from being an active member of the farm, where she works as a calf manager monitoring feedings, as well as assisting with posts for the sisters’ social media accounts.
Just like farming, running NY Farm Girls has its rewards and challenges.
A huge part of the sisters’ mission is to pull back the curtain and show people what is behind the products they consume. “Showing people the reality of dairy farming is huge,” says Evelyn. “Changing people’s minds and getting comments that say ‘Oh, that’s how milk is made’ or ‘Oh, those cows are treated well’ and just having an impact on people that aren’t sure about farming is my favorite part.”
The NY Farm Girls are also grateful for the community they’ve found online. “When you’re in the farming world and you’re always on the farm, you feel a little bit isolated,” she says. “But online you realize how many more farmers are just like us and you feel a lot less alone.”
As far as the future for the farmers and their accounts goes, they hope their following continues to grow as they do. “I know a lot of younger people follow us because they relate to us,” says Evelyn. “So, as we grow, we just want to keep creating our little community we have on social media and sharing more and continue teaching people about ag.”
Very uplifting in these times!!
Wish you would replace pictures of the scanty clad celebrities living in multi million dollar homes, and all the depressing news!!!
Good job girls!! Big thank you from another NY farm.girl in WNY. 🙂
Bravo! As a one time Wisconsin dairy vet, I appreciate you getting the word out that, while some huge dairy operations have egregious practices, most smaller farms are deeply caring for their animals and land. I hope you’re also making the commitment to your acreage to use regenerative methods, as seen in the Farmer’s Footprint film.
One step at a time, but I’m so glad you’re sharing your day to day with the world.
I grew up on a dairy farm too! I know what it is like! 7 days a week with no vacation. So if anyone wants to do this job thru sickness an health, richer or poorer. Then this job is for you.
Dairy farm jobs are declining because of this. So dont knock it, until you actually do it!!
These women are living a beautiful life caring for animals and land in compassionate, deeply humane and environmentally proficient ways that contribute to communities and country where they live. The world needs more of you.
Thank for letting everyone know how being a farmer is a hard and rewarding job! I grew up on a farm and I’m very proud of it.
I am so proud of you young ladies. Each of you matter. Your animals matter. And because I am in the livestock business it is awesome to see people in today’s society who truly do the work that feeds America. I’m very proud of each of you thank you Pat
This is nice to see for a younger generation starting again. I have a dairy farm and crops in West Central Wisconsin and how to sell all the cows off and part of my farm in 2017 when milk prices were so low at that time when Trump was in we did not have good milk prices or grain prices and I needed $18 a hundred to break even and it dropped all the way down below 14 I do believe down to $12 and it makes me sad I have a 70 cow barn with nice new stalls stainless… Read more »
I’ve been a farmer for over 40 years and have never been called or known to be cruel or uncaring . Great job girls . I can remember being two years old , the youngest of six kids playing in the barn while my mom milked the cows in a stantion barn , lifting the old milk cans from the air vac pipeline to the far end of the barn and dumping the milk into a reciever tank , which then would run through a filter and into tge main tank . Hauling manure for her was a bit of… Read more »
Love you girls and what you are doing. We have been raising angus for 70 years. Very hard work but fun. Just remember we are doing the most important job in the world. Feeding it.