DelVal students apply real-world training at North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

May 03, 2016

Courtesy: NAIDC.

Credit: NAIDC. 2016 Delaware Valley University Team (left to right): Coach Dr. Bruce Richards, Rose Guerette, Clarissa Reed, Olivia Bingeman and Noah Gesford. 

Delaware Valley University participated in the 15th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) held April 7 through April 9 in Liverpool, New York. In total, 247 students from 39 colleges across the U.S. and Canada attended this educational event. These students are training for careers in the dairy industry as farmers, researchers, educators, financial analysts, nutritionists, farm service providers and veterinarians.

DelVal's team included: Noah Gesford '16, Clarissa Fuoss Reed '16, Olivia Bingeman '16, and Rose Guerrette '16. Dr. Bruce Richards, assistant professor of animal science, coached the team.

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. In its 15-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped train more than 5,000 students through the national contest, Dairy Challenge Academy and four regional contests conducted annually.

Collegiate participants visited six dairy farms in New York, as part of their training to help farmers evaluate and adapt management to optimize success and animal care. Also, industry professionals presented cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

Each contest team received information from an area dairy, including production and farm management data. After an in-person inspection of the dairy, students interviewed the herd owners. Each team developed a farm analysis and recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

The event culminated with team members presenting recommendations and then fielding questions from a panel of judges. These official judges included dairy producers and industry experts in dairy finances, reproduction, nutrition and animal health. Presentations were evaluated for accuracy of analysis and recommendations, with awards presented at a final banquet.

The Dairy Challenge Academy was developed in 2013 to expand this educational and networking event to more college students. Academy student-participants also analyzed and developed recommendations for operating dairies; however, the Academy was organized in mixed-university teams with two Advisors to help coach these younger students.

Academy participants from Delaware Valley University included Matt Ringer '18, Matt Driscoll '18, Bridget McConn '17 and Tess Stahl '17.

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge was established as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. NAIDC is supported completely through generous donations by 120 agribusinesses and dairy producers, and programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors.

Ashley Mohn '16 was selected to represent the University on the media and communications team at the Dairy Challenge® preparing pictures, videos, and updates for social media outlets throughout the event.

"Dairy Challenge is about having hands-on experience within the dairy community," said Mohn. "Being a Social Media Corps member, I had the opportunity to highlight what the students were doing, but on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. In the future I would like to have a marketing career with an agriculture-based company and items that I learned through Dairy Challenge will help me in that avenue."

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