Some 250 future leaders of the dairy industry gathered in Syracuse, N.Y., for the national Dairy Challenge held April 7-9. The event brought together 39 colleges from 29 states and three Canadian provinces to learn technical dairy skills, network with other students and explore industry careers and innovation.
“Dairy Challenge is a premier dairy event, providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel,” explained Barry Putnam, Northeast Dairy Challenge committee chair.
The North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge allows dairy students to work as a team and apply theory and learning on a real-world dairy farm. In Syracuse, two programs ran concurrently – the 15th annual Dairy Challenge contest and the fourth annual Dairy Challenge Academy. The events were coordinated by the NAIDC Board of Directors and the Northeast Dairy Challenge committee.
The 2016 contest included 32 universities, each with four students on their team competing for awards. The Academy provided interactive training in dairy farm evaluation for 119 students in dairy programs at universities, community colleges or technical schools. Academy participants were divided into smaller groups, mixing students from various colleges, with agribusiness volunteers as Academy Advisors guiding their work.
In the contest, the college team presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and agribusiness personnel. All students, coaches, volunteers and sponsors joined together to celebrate at Saturday evening’s banquet.
Eight College Teams Earn Top Awards
The following teams and students were awarded first place, with each student receiving a $200 scholarship.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls: Brian Fesenmaier, Meghan Connelly, Kyle Rentmeester and Dylan Nelson, coached by Dr. Sylvia Kehoe
University of Wisconsin-Madison: Cody Getschel, Olivia Peter, Elizabeth Endres and Megan Opperman, coached by Theodore Halbach and Dr. David Combs
California Polytechnic State University: Justine DeVries, John Schoneveld, Toni Silva and Christine Sousa, coached by Dr. Stan Henderson and Dr. Julie Huzzey
Cornell University: Josh Landis, Kelsey Neckers, Greg Van Ravenswaay and Colleen Smith, coached by Betsey Howland and Dr. Mike Van Amburgh
Teams and students earning second place and $100 student scholarships include:
University of Alberta: Melanie Boros, Casey Morey, Kathleen Murphy and Sarah Pletts, coached by Dr. Masahito Oba
University of Guelph: Shaelyn Prins, Victoria Seip, Sabrina Van Schyndel and Maggie Williamson, coached by Mark Carson, Dr. Trevor Devries and Dr. John Walton
University of Idaho: Kimberly Davenport, Kayla Nelson, Zachary Reynolds and Thomas Vanberkum, coached by Dr. Amin Ahmadzadeh
University of Minnesota: Eric Houdek, Mary Liebenstein, Bret Ott and Wyatt Smith, coached by Dr. Marcia Endres
“The success of the 2016 Dairy Challenge was possible through tremendous support of the participating dairy farm families in New York, the time and financial support from allied dairy businesses and dairy food donations by processors. Dairy professionals from across the U.S. assisted as contest judges and Academy advisors,” shared Putnam. “I know beyond a doubt that the industry will rally again to support the 2017 Dairy Challenge in Visalia, California, next year and make it an even greater success as we continue developing tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”