Penn State University hosted a successful Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge that drew 109 students from 10 northeastern U.S. and two Canadian universities to State College, PA, on Oct. 22 -24. This event marked the 13th annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge which is an innovative, three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for careers in the dairy industry.
Working in mixed-university teams of four or five students, contestants assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction, animal health and much more. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges and participating farm families. Teams were ranked based on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ assessment of the dairy operation.
The objective of Dairy Challenge is to create a real-life situation that stresses the importance of teamwork and professionalism. Industry chair Suzanne Demeester of Novus International, Inc. explained, “Not only does the Dairy Challenge teach technical knowledge, it excels in helping students develop people skills.”
Farms evaluated at the 2015 competition included Schrack Farms in Loganton, PA; Ti Glo Farm in Howard, PA and Willow Behrer Farms in Spruce Creek, PA. All teams also participated in educational workshops at Evergreen Farms in Spruce Creek, PA. Team-building and fun activities were held throughout the weekend to encourage networking among students and dairy industry sponsors.
First place teams, which were named after top sponsors of the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge, included: Holtz-Nelson Dairy Consultants, LLC, Semex and Merck Animal Health.
The 2016 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge will be hosted by SUNY Cobleskill. For more information about next year’s contest, please contact Kim Tarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org . To become a sponsor, contact Jan Bitter of Farm Credit East at 800-392-3276 or email@example.com . All contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Contributing sponsor listings are available at www.dairychallenge.org.