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July 2007

MSU Dairy Challenge Team Takes Gold at National Contest

Miriam Weber Nielsen
Dept. of Animal Science

Michigan State University undergraduates with an interest in dairy competed in three Dairy Challenge contests during the winter and spring, culminating in the 6th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The students from freshman through senior levels combined their skills, knowledge and passion for dairy to work together to evaluate dairy farm management.

All undergraduates with an interest in dairy are invited and encouraged to participate in the MSU Dairy Challenge. Participants in the MSU Dairy Challenge are invited to attend the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge, with approximately half of the available positions reserved for students in the Ag Tech Dairy Management Program. The team to compete in the NAIDC is selected by the judges of the MSU Dairy Challenge.

The innovative competition tests students’ skills and knowledge of all aspects of a dairy business in an interactive, educational and challenging event. It encourages students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy farm, while working as part of a team.
Day one of the Dairy Challenge begins with each team receiving selected farm records and then walking through the farm operation. After the farm visit, each team has the opportunity to interview the farm manager. Then, each team completes a farm analysis and develops a presentation with recommendations for herd management. Day two is presentation day, when teams present their recommendations to a panel of judges. Students field questions from the judges, and then receive oral feedback from the judges on their presentation. Presentations are evaluated by the judges, and the day concludes with placing of the teams and presentation of awards.

Twenty MSU undergraduates participated in the MSU Dairy Challenge last fall. The contest farm was Cole’s Apple Dairy Farm, managed by Kevin Cole. The winning undergraduate team received a $900 cash scholarship and consisted of Ted Costigan (Lansing), Baylee Drown (Cedar Springs), Elizabeth Marvel (Fowler), and Courtney Huff (North Branch). The runner-up team, which received a $400 cash scholarship, consisted of Nicole Beeching (Lawrence), Lindsey First (Ionia), Matthew Oesch (Alto), and Megan Pickler (Mt. Pleasant). The team placing third and receiving a $200 cash scholarship was Nancy Ames (Montrose), Colleen Jackson (Caro), Lisa Snyder (Coldwater), and Mary Ten Brink (Coopersville). Additional participants were Katy McCracken (Carson City), Jenny Nurenberg (Pewamo), Katherine Serne (Lowell), Ann Edgecomb (Traverse City), Quinn Elliott (Holt), Kristen Etchebarne (Modesto, CA), Meghan Field (Sterling Heights), and Joann Greenfield (Annapolis, MD).

Nine students represented MSU at the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge January 25 – 27, 2007 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. All of the regional Dairy Challenge events mix students from different schools on 5-person teams to focus on development of skills in teamwork in addition to dairy management. Participants from MSU included Nicole Beeching, Lindsey First, Ashley Messing (Bad Axe), Jenny Nurenberg, Matthew Oesch, Tim Gamble (New Carlisle, IN), Michael Schrader (St. Johns), Johnny Verhaar (Bad Axe), and Laura Zeldenrust (Fremont).
Joann Greenfield, Elizabeth Marvel, Jenny Nurenberg and Matthew Oesch were selected by the judges to represent MSU in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC). After working together each week during spring semester to prepare, the team traveled to the NAIDC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 30-31. Four-person teams from 29 four-year college programs in the U.S. and Canada each evaluated one of three dairy farms in the vicinity of Twin Falls. The MSU team earned a Gold ranking, placing behind the two Platinum-winning universities in their division.

Cargill Animal Nutrition and the Halbert Family’s Frederick Pierce Halbert Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund provide major financial support for MSU’s Dairy Challenge activities. Appreciation is extended to Cole’s Apple Dairy Farm near Byron, managed by Kevin Cole, and to Bryan Wischmeyer and Dr. Kevin Dill of Land O’Lakes/Purina Feeds for working with Cole’s Apple Dairy Farm to host the MSU Dairy Challenge. The generous donation of time and effort by the MSU Dairy Challenge judges is sincerely appreciated: Brent Beeker, NorthStar Cooperative; Dr. Bonnie Dansby, Fowlerville Veterinary Clinic; Dr. Dave Beede, MSU Animal Science; and Bill Earley, ADM Alliance Nutrition. Special thanks go to Dr. Herb Bucholtz and Marcus Hollman, MSU Animal Science; Dean Ross, MSU Extension Dairy Educator; Dr. Kevin Dill and Bryan Wischmeyer, and Doug Brook of NorthStar Cooperative for help in coordinating the MSU Dairy Challenge and preparing the team for the NAIDC.

Generous support from corporate sponsors makes the regional and national Dairy Challenge events possible. More information on the national Dairy Challenge and a listing of corporate sponsors is available at <http://www.dairychallenge.org>.





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