Spring 2010

On Henry Mall

At the Babcock Hall Dairy Store, Sara Brummel is learning on the job.

After earning her degree in marketing and human resources, Sara Brummel looked around for a sweet job. And that’s exactly what she found, landing a position with one of the sweetest spots on campus.

Now, as manager of the Babcock Hall Dairy Store, the 2008 UW-Madison graduate is in charge of more than two dozen employees—and a healthy scoop of university tradition.

“When I first started, I was told the dairy store is a campus showpiece,” says Brummel, “and that I should try to make it even more of a showpiece.”

Putting a recent graduate in charge of CALS’ famed dairy store was the brainchild of Bill Klein BS’83, Babcock’s plant manager. Seeking ways to enhance Babcock’s mission as a training ground for future professionals, Klein converted the store manager position, formerly held by career staff, to a two-year internship. Brummel became the store’s first intern in December 2008, and Klein says the experiment has gone so well that he’s now planning to add interns in other parts of the dairy operation, including the plant where Babcock’s famous cheeses and ice creams are produced.

“When I ask myself why (the dairy plant) was built, I always go back to the fact that it’s meant to provide an educational experience for students,” says Klein. “We’re trying to make use of these facilities as a place where students can get some experience before they go off into the real world.”

Klein says Babcock’s high standards and loyal customer base mean that interns have to meet tough expectations. But fresh faces bring other advantages, he says. “What I like about it is I get an enthusiastic employee who’s got a lot of ideas, who’s very smart and wants to make their mark.”

And so far, Brummel has proved Klein right. In her first year on the job, she has expanded store hours and introduced several new products, including fresh bakery goods and fair-trade coffee brewed specially for the store. She has also redesigned the store’s web site and signage, bringing in screens that describe daily ice cream flavors and specials.

“It’s pretty amazing to be put into this kind of management position right away and to be given the kinds of responsibilities that I have,” says Brummel. She even gets to experiment with new ice cream flavors—and there’s only one word for that kind of assignment: sweet.

This article was posted in Features, Food Systems, On Henry Mall, Spring 2010.