Students apply real-world training at North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

Apr 27, 2015

Dairy Challenge Team

Credit: North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge. Delaware Valley University Team. Front row (L-R): Kristy Kern 15', Kali Terrel '15; Back row (L-R) Coach Dr. Bruce Richards, Victoria Macatee '15, Callie Parker '15.

Delaware Valley University participated in the 14th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) held April 9-11 in Liverpool, NY. In total, 274 students from 38 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.

The team from DelVal consisted of Kristy Kern ’15, Callie Parker ’15, Kali Terrel ’15, and Victoria Macatee ’15. Dr. Bruce Richards 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 14-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped train more than 4,700 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 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 DelVal included: Katelyn Sigman '16, Clarissa Fuoss '16, MacKenzie Krisher '16, Matthew Ringer '18, Allison Froelich '15 and Kenny Warfield '16.                                                                                                                                                                                   

“We were able to work with some of the best people in the industry who were dedicated to helping us succeed,” said Froelich.

Macatee said of the experience, “It is an experience I would recommend to anyone with an interest in working in the dairy industry. “

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.

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