More students from more collegiate dairy programs participated in the 2013 National Dairy Challenge, expanded by the first-ever Dairy Challenge Academy. The event was held April 4-6 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and hosted by Purdue University, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University. In total, the 2013 event attracted 223 college students from 37 dairy programs across the United States and Canada.
Two separate-but-related programs ran in conjunction – the 12th annual Dairy Challenge contest and the new Dairy Challenge Academy.
The contest, where university teams compete against one another, included 128 students and 32 universities.
The new Academy engaged 95 students from 29 schools, including two-year dairy programs.
Both events are coordinated by the host universities and a volunteer Board of Directors of North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC).
“In our 12 years, the national and regional Dairy Challenge events have successfully brought together students and professionals for education, networking and exposure,” explained Dr. Mike van Amburgh, Vice Chair of NAIDC.
“However, the NAIDC Board realized our national contest structure limits the number of students. The Academy was created so more students from more dairy programs could benefit through a national event.”
Van Amburgh explained the national contest structure is limited to four-year baccalaureate programs, with each college fielding a four-person team. The new Academy opens up opportunity for students in two-year dairy programs, along with additional participants from four-year universities.
“We plan to expand the Academy in upcoming years to host even more students, based on positive feedback from students, coaches and sponsors at this inaugural event,” announced van Amburgh.
Dairy Challenge applies learning to a real-world dairy
In both the contest and the educational academy, Dairy Challenge participants work in groups and put textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy.
Students also gain exposure to various dairy careers, network with industry leaders and learn about new technologies and opportunities.
Over its 12-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare 4,000 students for careers in the dairy industry, dairy production and veterinary medicine.
“Dairy Challenge has provided a splendid opportunity for our students to integrate what they learn in classes with real-world situations, use problem-solving skills and network with leaders in the dairy industry,” stated Maurice Eastridge, 2013 event chair and professor at The Ohio State University.
The three-day event began with a presentation on dairy profitability by Phil Plourd of Blimling and Associates, followed by a panel of diverse industry professionals on “Opportunities in the U.S. dairy industry for college graduates.”
Panelists were Todd Kranz, Select Sires, Inc.; Mike Lormore, Zoetis; Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State Extension; Amy te Plate-Church, Cooperative Resources International; Rob Sheffer, Cargill Animal Nutrition; and Chad Wright, Animal Health International.
Next, students, industry specialists and educators worked in small groups at the Alan Kuehnert family dairy near Fort Wayne, where they focused on specific aspects like financial analysis, milking protocols, calf care and six other management areas.
The first evening, students split into smaller groups and were assigned an operating dairy to analyze and provide recommendations to improve profitability. Contest students worked in teams of four, all from the same university, and without the aid of coaches or Internet.
Academy participants were assigned to mixed-school groups and guided by volunteer academy advisers who coached students in analytical and team-building skills.
Day two included a walk-through of the assigned dairy, analysis of farm data and question-answer session with farm owners. All groups – in both contest and Academy – developed recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.
On day three, students presented their recommendations, visited with sponsor companies at the career and innovation fair, and heard corporate technology presentations.
These talks were presented by Jean Conklin, Yankee Farm Credit; Mike Jerred, Cargill Animal Nutrition; Jordan Matthews, Wisconsin dairy producer; Dick Poeppel, Purina Animal Nutrition; Steve Schumacher, Animal Health International and Dave Thorbahn, Select Sires, Inc.
In the contest, the college team presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and industry personnel. All students, coaches, volunteers and sponsors joined together to celebrate at Saturday evening’s banquet.
Eight college teams earn top awards
In the contest, first place awards were earned by California Polytechnic State University, South Dakota State University (SDSU), University of Vermont and University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Each first-place team member received a $200 scholarship.
The team from Cal Poly consisted of Mandy Brazil, Micah DeGroot, Erin DeSnayer and David Vander Schaaf, and was coached by Stan Henderson.
Representing SDSU team were Cassandra Hulstein, April Johnson, Lael Schoessler and Alisha Vander Wal with coach Ken Kalscheur.
The Vermont team included Kaitlin Benoit, Morgen Doane, Andrew Whitney, Melissa Woolper and coach Wanda Emerich.
UW-River Falls students were Jonathan Hallock, Riley Jolma, Carl Lippert and Elizabeth Simonis, coached by Sylvia Kehoe.
The following teams and students were awarded Second Place, with each student earning a $100 scholarship.
- Iowa State University: Jordan Hanson, Matt Henkes, Jordan Hunt, Derek Nolan, and coach Lee Kilmer
- Penn State: Dakota Grove, Jared Risser, Nathan Ulmer and Hannah Wentworth with coaches Lisa Holden and Gabriella Varga
- Virginia Tech: Tyler Boyd, Alli Davis, Isaac Hammock and Elizabeth Sumners with coaches Mark Hanigan and Bob James
- University of Wisconsin‐Platteville: Tanner Bradley, Sam Enloe, Stephanie Nagel, Nathalie Schattner and coach Tera Montgomery
Total industry effort
Four dairies opened up their farms for analysis and in exchange, received a wealth of ideas from students and judges to fine-tune management. Host dairies for the 2013 Dairy Challenge were:
- Bloom Dairy, Inc., Doug & Bruce Bloom, Coldwater, Michigan
- Brand Dairy Farm and Ariwami Holsteins, George & David Brand, Waterloo, Indiana
- Preston Farms, Glenn, Keith, Brian & Adam Preston families, Quincy, Michigan
- Stockwell Farms, Inc., Kevin & Kyle Stockwell, Hudson, Indiana
“Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State were pleased to team up and host the 2013 national event,” said Eastridge. “The strength of the dairy programs within these three universities - along with strong dairy leadership in this tri-state area – lends for an ideal host site. This is truly an opportunity to showcase the Midwest dairy industry and develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”
About Dairy Challenge
The mission of NAIDC is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhances the development of the dairy industry and its leaders.
The next national contest will also be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in April 2014. Four regional events are held in late fall and winter; details at www.dairychallenge.org/calendar_news.php . PD
—From North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge press release
PHOTO 1: Adam Preston (far right) of Quincy, Michigan, answers questions of Dairy Challenge contest participants as part of their mission to evaluate and recommend opportunities to maximize dairy productivity.
PHOTO 2: At Dairy Challenge, students from Cornell University review the dairy’s production and other management performance, feed rations and financial records.
PHOTO 3: University of Idaho teammates inspect milking cow comfort at the dairy they were assigned to evaluate at the 2013 NAIDC.
PHOTO 4: College students at the inaugural Dairy Challenge Academy present their dairy management recommendations to other students and volunteer Academy Advisors.
PHOTO 5: The 2013 Dairy Challenge kicked off with thought-provoking presentation on dairy profit analysis and expectations by Phil Plourd, President and CEO of Blimling and Associates, Madison, Wisconsin.
PHOTO 6: Earning first place honors at the 2013 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge were teams from Cal Poly, South Dakota State University (SDSU), University of Vermont (UVM) and University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UW-RF). Front Row (L-R): April Johnson, SDSU; Cassandra Hulstein, SDSU; Morgen Doane, UVM; Melissa Woolpert, UVM; Riley Jolma, UW-RF; Carl Lippert, UW-RF; Mandy Brazil, Cal Poly; Erin de Snayer, Cal Poly. Back Row (L-R): Alicia Vander Wal, SDSU; Dr. Ken Kalscheur, Coach SDSU; Lael Schoessler, SDSU; Andrew Whitney, UVM; Wanda Emerich, Coach UVM; Kaitlin Benoit, UVM; Elizabeth Simmons, UW-RF; Dr. Sylvia Kehoe, Coach UW-RF; Jonathan Hallock, UW-RF; David Vander Schaaf, Cal Poly; Dr. Stan Henderson, Coach Cal Poly; Micah DeGroot, Cal Poly.
Photos provided by NAIDC.