Delaware Valley University Students Compete in Dairy Challenge
Nine DelVal students gained hands-on experience in the dairy industry through the competition.
Nine Delaware Valley University students competed in the 2022 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge in Lyons Falls, NY on Oct. 27 - 29. The 20th Annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge brought together 73 students from colleges and universities from the Northeastern United States and Canada.
Dairy Challenge 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 judges’ assessments of the dairy operation.
DelVal’s team included: Ryder Campbell ’22, Hunter Sweitzer ’23, Roxanne Kingsley ’23, Eamonn Walton ’24, Julia Lorenz ‘23, Kayla Rhinesmith ’24, Faithlynn Moore ’25, John Stierly IV ’23, and Ashleigh Moss ‘24. The team is coached by Ms. Joanne Powell. Students were placed on intercollegiate teams and ranked based on the evaluation they did for one of two farms.
Roxanne Kingsley was on an intercollegiate team that finished second.
Eamonn Walton’s intercollegiate team finished first on their farm.
Speaking about the experience, John Stierly IV said: "I had a great time collaborating with peers and professionals, and was definitely a great learning experience!” Ryder Campbell summed it up with: “I was apprehensive about participating in the Dairy Challenge due to my lack of dairy background, but looking back on the experience I’m so grateful I decided to go. I learned so many interesting things about the dairy industry and gained invaluable professionalism skills that will set me apart from others when I start my career after graduation.” Roxanne Kingsley added “This is my third time competing in Dairy Challenge and it is an experience I would recommend to anyone. I learned a lot and I got to meet new people with different backgrounds from all over the region. The dairy industry has opened me up to many rewarding experiences and this would definitely be one of them.”
Included in the events during the Dairy Challenge was a career fair featuring dairy businesses from all over the country. Students submitted resumes along with their registration materials so employers were able to assess potential new hires. Team-building and social activities were held throughout the weekend to encourage networking among students and dairy industry sponsors. The highlight of these activities was an evening at local bowling alley where students, sponsors, and coaches had the opportunity, to compete for prizes. Students were reassigned to new teams and had to ask for a sponsor to join their team in order to be eligible. Dairy Challenge NAIDC is an innovative event for students in dairy programs at North American post-secondary institutions. 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.
Hunter Sweitzer wrapped the contest up best: "A worthwhile experience where I learned a lot not just about dairy or agriculture, but team bonding and achieving a group goal."
Over its 20-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals. The 2023 national competition and Dairy Challenge Academy will be March 30 – April 1 in Saratoga Springs, New York. For more information, visit dairychallenge.org.