10 DelVal Students Attend the 2022 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

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DelVal Dairy Science
Credit: Delaware Valley University

On March 31 to April 2, 10 Delaware Valley University (DelVal) students attended the 2022 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. 208 students from across 32 different states and Canadian provinces were in attendance. After three years apart, students, mentors, and judges were eager to return to an in-person format.

At the event, dairy students worked to improve their dairy management and communication skills, networked with other students and explored industry careers. This annual challenge is a unique, real-world experience where dairy students work as a team and apply their college coursework to evaluate and provide solutions for an operating dairy farm.

"It is really incredible to see the Wisconsin dairy community come together to make this premier event possible for these college students - from host dairies to agribusiness sponsors, and dairy product donors, to the more than 168 volunteers that helped plan and coordinate the Dairy Challenge," explained Dave Whitlock, Cooperative Milk Producers Association and NAIDC Board Chairperson.

At the event, two programs ran concurrently - the 20th annual Dairy Challenge contest and the ninth annual Dairy Challenge Academy. Four students from DelVal competed in the contest, Evan Rapp '22, Kendra Mounts '23, Molly O'Sullivan '22 and Alana Miller '22. Six students participated in the academy, Roxanne Kingsley '23, Eammon Walton '24, Matt Good '24, Cameron Calabro '24, Sarah Mullen '24 and Tim Finnegan '24. The students were coached by Dr. Bruce Richards, co-chair of the Animal Science department and associate professor, and Joanne Powell, animal science instructor.

The events were hosted by the University of Wisconsin Madison, Fox Valley Technical College, and the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge Planning Committee. Over its 20-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped more than 10,000 students prepare for careers in the dairy industry, dairy production, and veterinary medicine.

The three-day event included learning stations at Majestic Crossing Dairy, a dairy farm in Sheboygan Falls, where the team and their consultants helped students better understand Wisconsin dairy conditions and shared details about milking robot transitioning, robot nutrition management, robot economics, and robot functionality. Students also visited the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center, where they heard from three industry individuals about being an advocate for the dairy industry.

Day two began with the on-farm analysis, with all students having just two hours to visit their assigned dairy and witness the dairy's operations. After a question and answer session with the farm owners and advisors, the student teams developed recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort, and labor and financial management.

On day three, students presented their recommendations to the judging panel, visited with sponsors at the Career and Innovation Fair, and learned through presentations from top-level NAIDC sponsors. These talks were presented by:

  • Matt Lange, Compeer Financial - "Evaluating Technology Investments"
  • Mateus Peiter, Cargill, Inc. - "Building Credibility with the Use of Technology on Farm"
  • Jack Hippen, STgenetics - "What Companies are Looking for in New Grads"
  • Dave Thorbahn, Select Sires, Inc. - "Enhancing Sustainability through Reproductive and Genetic Performance"
  • Curt Gooch, Land O'Lakes-Truterra, LLC - "US Dairy Sustainability-Applied Solutions"
  • Jenny DeMunck, GENEX - "Breeding Strategies and ROI"
  • Sarah Anderson, Allflex Livestock Intelligence/Merck Animal Health - "Beyond Heat Detection-How Monitoring Technology Helps Maximize Labor Efficiency, Automation, and ROI"

Four dairy farms opened up their farms for analysis and in exchange, received a wealth of ideas from students and judges. Host farms for the 2022 Dairy Challenge were:

  • Soaring Eagle Dairy LLC, Newton, Wis.
  • Strutz Farm Inc., Two Rivers, Wis.
  • Brickstead Dairy LLC, Greenleaf, Wis.
  • Collins Dairy LLC, Greenleaf, Wis.

"Dairy Challenge is one of the most memorable events in a student's college career. It is a real-life application of knowledge and skill packed together with networking and teamwork," said Kristi Fiedler, co-chair of the event. In total, the event impacted over 500 students, volunteers and farm staff. And all agree the event was a tremendous success.

Interested in DelVal's Animal Science program?! Click here to discover more!