Coming from 10 states across the Midwest, 110 students from 20 colleges and universities gathered in the heart of Madison, Wisc., for the 13th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge. Students came together to gain valuable life, career and dairy management skills, as Dairy Challenge allows collegiates to apply theory and learning on a real-world dairy farm while working as part of a team.
The three-day event kicked off with seminars on a variety of topics to hone skills and information the students would use in the farm evaluation. Students participated in presentations from industry leaders on benchmarking financials, optimizing cow comfort, mining for data and utilizing PCDart and DairyComp 305. During the first evening, teams of four to five students from different schools met, joined in team building and analyzed herd management data and farm financials. Each team was supported by two mentors from agribusiness or universities, who guided them through the data analysis and farm inspection.
On Thursday, February 8, teams visited one of three farms: Wargo Acres, of Lodi; Dohm Farms, of Dane; and Dean’s of Dane. Teams evaluated their respective farm to make recommendations in nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort and financial management. After working all afternoon on their presentations, students networked with agribusiness sponsors while participating in workshops on etiquette, interviews and career development.
On the third and final day, students presented their analysis to a panel of five judges and the farm owners. Each team delivered a 20-minute presentation on the strengths and areas of opportunity for their respective farm.
Students also had the excellent industry networking opportunities with companies at an innovation fair and joined a panel of industry leaders on dairy environmental sustainability efforts.
The judges awarded the following teams with the first and second place ranking among the eight total teams participating on each farm.
Farm 1, Wargo Acres
First Place: Team 8, Alex Faber- Lakeshore Technical College, Julia Nunes- University of Minnesota, Diana Zamora- Kansas State University, Cassie Krebill- Iowa State University, Anthony Schmitz- University of Wisconsin- Madison Second Place: Team 6, Ryan Nelson- Kansas State University, Kate Sherman- The Ohio State University, Jeana Noel- Northwest Missouri State University, Kristen Broege- University of Wisconsin- Madison
Farm 2, Dohm Farms
First Place: Team 14, Meghan Skiba- University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alexandra Houck- The Ohio State University, Krizia Lepiz- Purdue University, Ryan Smith- University of Wisconsin- Platteville, Nick Bagge- Northeast Iowa Community College
Second Place: Team 12, Chad Bruss- University of Wisconsin- Platteville, Ellie Steensma- Dordt College, Breyer Ott- Iowa State University, Abigail Martin- University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rachel Haynes- Purdue University
Farm 3, Dean’s
First Place: Team 18, Alex Engemen- Northwest Missouri State University, Cassie Hull- University of Wisconsin- Platteville, Hannah Meller- The Ohio State University, Lindsey Lehman- University of Wisconsin- River Falls, Austin Haywood- Michigan State University
Second Place: Team 2, Christina Ybema- Dordt College, Ronna Woock- University of Wisconsin- River Falls, Caleb Blaisdell- South Dakota State University, Ashley Binder- Purdue University
The Midwest event is one of four regional contests sponsored each year by North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC). These regional contests – plus a national event for about 250 dairy collegiates – are funded through generous support by 130 agribusinesses and dairy producers. Over its 15-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare over 5,000 students for careers as dairy owners or managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals.
The 2019 Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge will be hosted by the University of Illinois.