University of Vermont

Dairy Management Students Take First Place in North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

Four University of Vermont animal science students participating in Miner Institute’s Advanced Dairy Management program earned a first place award at the 12th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge which was held April 4-6 in Fort Wayne, Ind. The team – Kaitlin Benoit, Morgen Doane, Andrew Whitney, and Melissa Woolpert – was coached by Wanda Emerich, the Dairy Outreach Coordinator at Miner Institute. They placed first from a field of eight teams which all evaluated the same dairy farm near Fort Wayne. Out of a field of 32, the UVM team was one of four first place teams which included South Dakota State University, California Polytechnic University, University of Wisconsin River-Falls.

Dairy Challenge is an innovative two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. It enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy while working as part of a four-person team. The goal of Dairy Challenge is to incorporate a higher-learning atmosphere with practical application to help prepare students for careers in the dairy industry. Teams analyze farm data and speak with farm owners and then develop recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

The UVM team wrote of the experience on their return: "We are proud of our accomplishment, and certainly it feels great to win, but it is important to note that Dairy Challenge is worthwhile because it offers so much more than the chance to win an award. It provides hundreds of students with the opportunity to network with professionals and students who will be our future bosses, colleagues, clients and friends."

The 2013 event attracted 223 college students from 37 dairy programs across the U.S. and Canada and included the first ever Dairy Challenge Academy, which was attended by UVM student Cassie Bromley, who also participates in the Advanced Dairy Management program at Miner Institute. The Academy was developed to expand the educational and networking event to more college students. Academy students also analyzed and developed recommendations for operating dairies.

The Advanced Dairy Management program is a collaborative effort between Miner Institute and the University of Vermont.  The program was started in 2000 and is a 15-credit UVM course taught by Miner Institute faculty and professionals from the dairy industry.
Miner Institute will be the host site for the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge October 31 through Nov. 2, 2013.