The Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium (SGPDC) program held in Clovis, New Mexico, recently concluded the fourth year of its summer program. SGPDC was established in the summer of 2008 to address the need to improve the availability of dairy science education at universities in the Southwest. Participating students spend six weeks engaging in classroom instruction and trips to dairies where they obtain practical instruction of materials covered in the classroom. Topics covered during the six weeks of the program include herd management, dairy facilities, reproduction, nutrition and human resource development.

The program is also divided into two separate sessions for first-time participants and graduate students as well as those students that return for a second year.

This year, 52 students from 13 universities across the country participated in the program. The following are quotes from students who attended this summer.  PD

Why did you choose to participate in the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium – Teaching?


I chose to participate because of the incredible learning experience to be gained with minimal cost. In fact, the program is nearly free for the students, while the experience is invaluable. I have now completed both the first and second sessions of the program, and I feel that I have a much better understanding of the dairy industry.


Erin Crumbley
Animal Science, Livestock Production
New Mexico State University


I grew up on a small dairy farm milking 250 Holsteins in Texas and have always been very involved with the dairy industry. The Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium offered me the chance to learn about large dairy operations that are much different than what I am used to working around. It’s a great experience, classroom and hands-on, for anyone wanting to work in the cattle industry.

Nicole Hoff
Animal Science, Dairy Science
Texas A&M University


The Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium-Teaching gave me the opportunity to experience dairying in a completely different setting. All of my dairying experiences have been limited to southern Idaho and eastern Washington. The consortium allowed me to see dairying in the southwestern U.S. and compare it to what I have come to know as normal. In addition, the consortium had an inspiring medley of professors from across the nation from who I had the opportunity to learn from. I cannot think of any other academic setting that would afford me the chance to engage with so many professors who are highly respected in the dairy community for their expertise and contributions to dairy science in their fields of study.

Cynthia Scholte
Animal Science
University of Idaho

What did you gain from participating in the program?


The knowledge and experience I gained from the SGPDCT is above all other experiences I have ever had as a student. The knowledge that one gains from the SGPDCT cannot be obtained anywhere else, I believe. Students are exposed to so much at the SGPDCT, from companies to professors, and learn so much. The knowledge gained from this program was so much, and I will never forget the experience and the contacts gained from this program.

Andrew Krenek
Animal Science
Texas A&M University


I’ve learned so much more about the dairy industry behind what the rest of the world “sees.” I’ve learned from amazing professors who are well-known experts within the field and who know what they’re talking about – everything from the proper diet balance for a dry cow to how to successfully raise calves to the finances that keep the system running. There has been a lot that I didn’t even associate with the industry two years ago that I feel quite familiar with now. I’ve learned a lot about myself – what I want to do with my life, what I can and can’t handle and how I can potentially make a difference in the industry as a fresh face.

Kristin Catron

Animal Science, Dairy Science
Texas A&M University

What was your favorite part of the program? Why?


My favorite portion of the program was the trips to the dairies. We learned a lot in the classroom, but I am a hands-on learner. The ability for 30+ students to go to a dairy, interrupt the routine, palpate cows and even speak with the dairyman was an amazing opportunity that is hard to come by. I have a much stronger appreciation for the convenience of going to the store and buying a $3-or-so gallon of milk. I definitely feel that this program has given me a strong foundation in the dairy industry that I can use in and after veterinary school.

Kacie Boden
Animal Science, Pre-Veterinary
New Mexico State University


For me, the best part of the program was getting down and dirty with the cows during reproduction week. Learning to palpate, inseminate and ultrasound were exciting skills which I know I will need to perfect and use extensively later in my career. I also greatly enjoyed learning about herd evaluation and all of the factors that can influence the efficiency and well-being of the herd as a whole. I think that consulting is becoming an important part of the duties of veterinarians. It is also an important skill for dairymen to have a strong understanding of so that they can use it to evaluate their own herd whenever they feel it is necessary. All of our professors were extremely passionate about their respective subjects, which made each and every week interesting and entertaining.

Michelle Plotzker
History, Pre-Veterinary
Stevens Institute of Technology

What are your future plans?


I most definitely want to stay in the dairy industry. It’s always been my passion to educate people about agriculture, and I feel like today, more than ever, people need to know what really goes on around the farm. That’s one reason I started my blog ( ). I am interested in public relations and would like to help the dairy industry by informing the public about what dairying is all about. Overall, the consortium was a wonderful experience, and I cannot wait to go back next summer!

Jaelan Gilbreath
Animal Science
Texas A&M University


I hope to attend veterinary school to become a large-animal vet and hopefully enlist in the Veterinary Corps of the U.S. Army. I believe any experience I can get concerning any type of animal will only benefit me in the end.

Donny Toland

Veterinary Science
University of Arizona


My future plans include me graduating from Tarleton State University with an agricultural communications degree followed by promoting the dairy industry and teaching outsiders what the dairy industry is really like. In the long term, I would like to own an efficient dairy of my own.

Kayler Campbell
Agricultural Communications, Dairy Science
Tarleton State University

Dario Martinez