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MSU Earns Platinum Reserve Honors at Nationals Dairy Challenge  

Miriam Weber Nielsen and Elizabeth Karcher
Dept. of Animal Science

Five Animal Science seniors participated in the 10th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) in Hickory, NC from March 31 to April 2, 2011. 

Members of the MSU team earning the 2nd-highest placing of Platinum Reserve were Jillian Holdwick, Animal Science senior, Harbor Beach; Sarah Fraley, Animal Science senior, Sandusky; Melissa Erdman, Animal Science senior, Minden City; and Allan Mergener, Animal Science senior, McMillan. The team was coached by Miriam Weber Nielsen and Elizabeth Karcher, Animal Science. Hannah Tucker (Animal Science senior, Elsie) participated on an aggregate team with students from other universities (Mason Amundson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Dallas Carabeau, University of Vermont) and earned a Gold placing. North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech co-hosted this year’s competition, which attracted 127 students from 30 universities from across the United States and Canada.

The first-place platinum awards were given to California State University–Fresno, Cornell University, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. Other teams achieving reserve platinum awards were from the University of Alberta, the University of Idaho and Washington State University.  Each member of the platinum teams received a plaque and a scholarship worth $200 for 1st place or $100 for 2nd place.

The NAIDC consists of four regional intercollegiate dairy management competitions – Midwest, Northeast, Southern and Western – and a national contest. Designed by dairy industry representatives and university faculty members and specialists, the event is supported financially through industry donations and coordinated by a volunteer board of directors. The first NAIDC originated in 2002 at Michigan State University, and since then has helped prepare more than 3,000 students for careers in the dairy industry.

The local MSU Dairy Challenge is held in the fall and all undergraduate and veterinary students with interest in dairy production and management are encouraged to participate. The event is designed to be similar to the national contest. From participants in the Novice Division of the MSU Dairy Challenge, 4 students are selected to represent MSU in the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge. The competition offers an environment that tests the students’ knowledge of the dairy industry in a fun and educational setting. One of the most important aspects of the Challenge is enhancing students’ ability to work as a member of a team.

Day one of the two-day competition began with each team receiving a packet of information on the dairy they will visit that day. Each packet included production and farm management data. After a visit to the dairy and an interview with farm personnel, team members work together to develop a comprehensive program to include recommendations for herd management. Students were challenged to not only identify potential areas of improvement, but also to prioritize these areas. On day two, teams present their recommendations to a panel of judges. Students field questions from each of the judges. The evening concludes with a banquet and presentation of awards.

Eighty-two students participated in the MSU Dairy Challenge in the fall of 2010. The advanced division consisted of 8 teams, the novice division had 6 teams, the Ag Tech Dairy Management division had 4 teams, and the Veterinary Student division had 2 teams. Students in the advanced division must have completed courses in dairy nutrition or advanced dairy management. The contest farm was owned by Ken and Larry Nobis of St. Johns. 

The winning team in the advanced division received $160 and consisted of Jordan Boniface (Animal Science senior, Delton); Jeff Shepherd (Animal Science senior, Saginaw); Lauren Stanko (Animal Science senior, Holly); and Anthony Vanderploeg (Agribusiness Management senior, Ithaca). The second-place team received $80 and was comprised of Krista Beeker (Animal Science/Agricultural Communications senior, Constantine), Katie Marcath (Animal Science senior, Macomb), Elizabeth Motz (Animal Science/Agribusiness Management senior, St. Johns), and Caroline Rauschendorfer (Animal Science senior, Macomb). The team placing third and receiving $60 was Allan Mergener (Animal Science senior, McMillan), Tracy Hillier (Animal Science senior, Marquette), Jessica Makowski (Animal Science senior, Macomb) and Sarah Fraley (Animal Science senior, Sandusky).

The winning team in the novice division received $160 and consisted of Lauren Bush (Animal Science sophomore, Swartz Creek), Tera Koebel (Agribusiness Management sophomore, Three Oaks), Eric Sneller (Animal Science junior, Sebewaing), and Jenna Taylor (Animal Science senior, Stockbridge). The second place team received $80 and comprised of Jacob Gillis (Animal Science freshman, Dexter), Kristi Kocsis (Animal Science junior, Lansing), and Arianna Walters (Animal Science junior, Pinconning).

The first place team in the Ag Tech Dairy Management (second year) Division received $160 and included Laura Nesbit (Frankenmuth), Todd Snyder (Twining), Brandon Delong (Grant) and Casey Klein (Animal Science senior, Richland). The second place team earned $60 and consisted of Dale Dick (McBain), John Anibal (Gaines) and Ross Williams (Homer).

Two teams participated in the Veterinary Student Division and placed in a tie: Henry Reinart (1st year, Hopkins), Christine Kostesich (1st year, Washington), Jacquelyn Rowley (1st year, Richmond) and Kayla Stomack (1st year, Minden City); and, Christine Hadley (2nd year, Hartford), Lee Anne Peasley (2nd year, Alpena), Chelsea Render (2nd year, Manchester) and Jaimie Strickland (2nd year, East Lansing). Each team received $80.

Jenna Taylor, Eric Sneller, Kristi Kocsis and Jared Scheurer (Ag Tech Dairy Management, Ionia) represented MSU at the 7th annual Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge. The design of the Midwest Regional is unique in that students were placed on 5-person teams with students from other colleges and universities. Their teams placed Silver, Platinum, Platinum Reserve and Gold, respectively. The event was held February 3 to 5, 2011 in Menomonie, WI and included 68 students from 16 universities and colleges across the Midwest. 

Sponsors for the MSU Dairy Challenge include ABS Global, ADM Alliance Nutrition, Caledonia Farmers Elevator, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Deckerville Veterinary Clinic, Diamond V, Falmouth Cooperative Company Inc., Kalmbach Feeds Inc., Land O’Lakes Purina Feed, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Nobis Agri Service Inc., NorthStar Cooperative and AntelBio, Prince Agri Products Inc., and Vita Plus Corporation. Dr. Roger Mellenberger, the Roger and Marjorie Mellenberger Dairy Associates Program Enhancement Fund; and, the Frederick P. Halbert Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund provided additional monetary support.

Acknowledgements and thanks are extended to the Nobis Dairy Farm and Dr. Kevin Dill and Bob Krieger with Land O Lakes Purina Feed for working with Ken and Larry Nobis to host the MSU Dairy Challenge. The contributions of the MSU Dairy Challenge judges are greatly appreciated: Dr. Herb Bucholtz, MSU Animal Science; Dr. Bruce Clark, NorthStar Cooperative Inc.; Dr. Kevin Dill, Land O’ Lakes/Purina Feed; Phil Durst, MSU Extension Dairy Team member; Tom Herremans, Michigan Milk Producers Association; Dr. Jerry Kehr, Countyline Veterinary Clinic; Gabe Papoi, ABS Global; Dr. Aaron Park, Kalmbach Feeds Inc.; Dr. Richard Pursley, MSU Animal Science; Dr. Gerald Segerlind, Countyline Veterinary Service; Brian Troyer, Caledonia Farmers Elevator; and Matt Wood, Vita Plus. Special thanks also go to Brad Curtis; Marcus Hollmann, Sarah Stocks, and Kim Kammes, MSU Animal Science; Dean Ross, MSU Extension Dairy Educator; and Doug Brook, NorthStar Cooperative for help in coordinating the MSU Dairy Challenge.

The support from all of the Dairy Challenge sponsors makes the MSU, regional, and national Dairy Challenge events possible. Additional information on the regional and national Dairy Challenge events and a listing of corporate sponsors is available at:

For more inquiries about the MSU Dairy Challenge, contact Weber Nielsen at msw@msu.edu or 517-432-5443.


Michigan Dairy Review is published and mailed to all Michigan dairy farmers and individuals working in allied industries. With its ever increasing on-line presence, the MDR target audience has spread beyond Michigan and the U.S.; today electronic subscribers are located in places such as Australia, The Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Peru, and New Zealand.  

The MDR is the primary communications vehicle for research findings, extension programming, and teaching between faculty and staff in MSU dairy programs and the dairy industry. The MDR web site is paid for by the C. E. Meadows Endowment.

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