Collegiate Dairy Leaders from U.S. & Canada Converge in Fort Wayne

Jamie Johansen

PrintThe Dairy Challenge Academy and contest will bring 280 students from 38 college dairy programs to Fort Wayne, Ind., April 4-6. This North American event – hosted by Purdue University, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University – is the largest gathering of collegiates pursuing a dairy career.

Students will converge in Fort Wayne from all corners of the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. These students are training for careers in the dairy industry, as farmers, researchers, educators, financial analysts, nutritionists, farm service providers and veterinarians.

Collegiate participants will visit six dairy farms in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, to learn how to help farmers evaluate and adapt their management to optimize success and care for animals. Also at Dairy Challenge, industry professionals will present cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) is fully funded through generous support by 130 agribusinesses and dairy farms. Dairy Challenge started 13 years ago through cooperation between universities, dairy producers and agribusinesses. The event expanded in 2013 with the first-ever Academy, which allowed more students to participate, network and gain skills. This year, about 130 students will compete in the national contest, and 150 students will participate in the Academy.

The tri-state area has a rich history with Dairy Challenge. The 2013 national event was also held in Fort Wayne, and Michigan State hosted the first two national contests in East Lansing in 2002 and 2003. Purdue University and The Ohio State University organized the Midwest regional events in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

“Dairy Challenge has provided a splendid opportunity for our students to integrate what they learn in classes with real-world situations, use problem-solving skills and network with leaders in the dairy industry,” states Maurice Eastridge, 2014 event chair and professor at Ohio State.

“This program has become a critical activity in teaching efforts at Purdue – and other universities – because it transforms the lives of excellent dairy students,” adds Dr. Michael M. Schutz, Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue.

At Dairy Challenge, each team of students puts textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy. Teams inspect an operating dairy, analyze farm data and ask questions of farm owners. Then each team develops recommendations, which will be presented to farm owners and a panel of five judges. At a concluding banquet, eight college teams will be announced as award winners, meaning their recommendations most closely match those of the official judges.

Supporters can follow the student activity through posts and photos on Facebook and @DairyChallenge on Twitter.

“Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State are pleased to team up and once again host the 2014 national Dairy Challenge,” continues Eastridge. “This area is blessed with strong dairy programs at these three universities and strong industry leadership and support. Hosting Dairy Challenge is truly an opportunity to showcase the Midwest and help develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”

Ag Group, Competition