University of Maine hosted the 10th annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge which drew 105 students from nine northeast colleges and two Canadian universities to Waterville, Maine, on November 1-3, 2012. New for 2012, a Technology Seminar for area dairy producers was held in conjunction with Dairy Challenge, to offer education, new research and networking.
The Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge is an innovative, three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for dairy careers. Working in mixed-university teams of four or five students, participants 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 as platinum, gold or silver based on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ evaluations of the dairy operation.
The objective of this evaluation process is to create a real-life situation that stresses teamwork, communication and professionalism. Industry chair Brett Denny of Vermont DHIA explained, “Not only does the Dairy Challenge teach technical knowledge, it excels in helping students to develop people skills.”
Maine farms evaluated during the 2012 competition included Stonyvale Farm, Exeter; The Wright Place, Clinton; and Piper Hill Farm, Embden. All students also attended an industry career fair, and they participated in educational workshops at Flood Brothers dairy farm near Clinton. Team-building and fun activities were held through the weekend to encourage networking among students and agribusiness sponsors.
Teams, which were named after top sponsors of the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge, were ranked as follows:
· Don Rogers Platinum (highest honors) – Merck Animal Health and Farm Credit System.
· Platinum – Cargill Animal Nutrition, Northeast Ag and Feed Alliance, Shur-Gain USA, APC, Inc. and Novartis Animal Health
· Gold – Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement Program, Farm Credit of Maine, Holtz-Nelson Dairy Consultants, New England Jersey Breeders Association and Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition
· Silver – Elanco Animal Health, AgChoice & MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Select Sires, ABS Global, Alltech, CIDEC, Dairy One, Genex Cooperative Inc., IDEXX Laboratories, Northeast Ag Education Foundation, Pfizer Animal Health and Prince Agri Products Inc.
For the first time, a Technology Seminar for area dairy producers was held in conjunction with the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge. Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University, spoke on Early Life Nutrition and Management Impacts Long-Term Productivity of Calves. Tom Kilcer, owner of Advanced Ag Systems, presented Forage Management and Alternative Forages to Enhance Quality and Reduce Purchased Feed Costs.
The 2013 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge will be hosted by the Miner Institute in Plattsburgh, New York. For more information about next year’s contest, please contact Wanda Emerich of Miner Institute at [email protected].
To become a sponsor, contact Jan Bitter of Farm Credit East at 800-392-3276 or [email protected]. All contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Contributing sponsor listings are available on the website.
The Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge is under the guidance and support of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) which was established in April 2002 as a management contest to incorporate evaluation of all aspects of a specific dairy business. For more information, visit www.dairychallenge.org.