Delaware Valley University Students Compete in the First Virtual Dairy Challenge

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Six Delaware Valley University students competed in the 2020 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge hosted by the University of Maine Oct. 29 through Oct. 30. The 18th Annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge brought together 87 students from 12 colleges and universities from the Northeastern United States and Canada through Zoom.

Dairy Challenge is an innovative, educational experience designed to prepare students for careers in the dairy industry. Students were divided into mixed-university working groups based on their interests and expertise. The groups were business, nutrition, herd health, facilities and crops/CAFO. Participants assessed aspects of a working dairy farm through farm records and data, and video of farm facilities and operations. Students collaborated with mentors from the dairy industry on a presentation that detailed their observations and suggestions to the participating farm family and industry sponsors.

DelVal’s team included: Melissa Bright ’20, Madison Jaslar ‘22, Nicole Sickler ‘22, Mackenzy Labrie ‘23, Kayla Rhinesmith ‘23, and Roxanne Kingsley ‘23. The team is coached by Dr. Bruce Richards.

“I participated in the first virtual Dairy Challenge [and] learned even more about the dairy industry through Zoom,” said Bright. “A lot of understanding and patience was needed for this event but I still had a blast.”

Goodie bags from Dairy Challenge sponsors were delivered to students to provide learning materials, farm data, sponsor information, t-shirts, and snacks.

Networking among students and dairy industry sponsors was encouraged as students submitted resumes and viewed industry videos. The week before dairy challenge, industry sponsors trained students through virtual classes on dairy records, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, herd health, tax planning, dairy supply chain, and business planning.

Dairy Challenge 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.

Looking back over her years of participation on the DelVal Dairy Challenge team, Bright said, “To me, dairy challenge means networking, learning, career choices, friends, and traveling. Dairy Challenge brightened my horizons and gave me an experience I will never forget.”

Over its 18-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.

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