A bright future for the dairy industry has been forecasted after taking a sneak-peek at the future leaders of the dairy industry. Sixty-eight of Wisconsin’s brightest and motivated dairy students gathered to attend the 2010 PDPW Youth Leadership Derby, which was held on Nov. 6 and 7 at DeForest High School in DeForest, Wisconsin. The 24-hour lock-in gave students 15-18 years old a look at the multiple career choices in the dairy industry and what it takes to reach their goals.

In addition to the PDPW staff, nine undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin – Madison led the group of high school students through this unique event, which allows multiple generations to grow, learn and connect with each other.

The lock-in was kicked off with a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, where Casey Langan from Wisconsin Farm Bureau met up with the students at the State Capitol for a quick tour and to role-play on how legislation happens. The group then headed over for a world-class education on the UW–Madison campus. Dr. Scott Rankin of the Department of Food Science met up with the group and discussed how new dairy food ideas become reality and what is needed to follow a career in food science. Dr. Nigel Cook of the School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a hands-on hoof diagnostic and trimming lab and a virtual tour of the veterinary school.

The day continued with a trip to the UW–Madison Arlington Research Farm. Mike Peters, herd administrator, gave a tour of the nearly 500-head dairy facility and explained the many features that make the farm unique. University of Wisconsin graduate students, Matt Akins and Shane Fredin, guided students as they roamed through the rumen of two of the University’s fistulated cows.

Katy Schultz and Darci O’Brien then took the students around the world as they shared their experiences with traveling abroad and what the dairy industry is like in another country.


The next morning, Andrea Brossard Martin from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board armored the group with fun facts and ways to communicate their passion for the dairy industry to their non-agriculture friends. Gus Gustafson concluded the lock-in with his story of success after a tragic farm accident took his right arm and shoulder as a child.

“The dairy industry’s future is bright because there is a crop of amazing youth eager and willing to continue their journey of work and lifelong learning in the dairy industry,” said Shelly Mayer, PDPW executive director. PD

—Article and photo provided by Darci O’Brien, PDPW communication and outreach assistant.