The Holstein Foundation is delighted to reintroduce the Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) after a year hiatus with a new location and refreshed agenda. Applications for YDLI Class 12 are due August 1 and can be found at

When the COVID-19 pandemic paused face-to-face meetings, the Holstein Foundation followed suit, pausing plans to start a new class, but made the most of it by putting together a YDLI task force. It seemed fitting in a time when people had lots of opportunities for self-reflection that the YDLI program itself should do the same. The task force was charged with looking at the YDLI program as if it were a blank slate and ensure it was relevant for the future.

A nine-month review
Josh Hushon, Holstein Foundation board of trustees chairman, chaired the task force. After monthly virtual meetings over the past nine months, he describes the outcome as, “If it was a home renovation project, I’d say that the house looks pretty much the same on the outside, with a fresh coat of paint, and some upgrades and modernization on the inside.”

Hushon, a YDLI Class 6 graduate, is filled with excitement to encourage YDLI Class 12 applicants. “This next class of YDLI could be the best one yet. If you’re even thinking about applying for this class, you should,” stated Josh. “Over the past year, we’ve revamped the curriculum to better prepare the future leaders of the dairy industry. This next group will be the first to benefit from that work, and I am confident they will.”

The framework of the YDLI program with its three phases will remain unchanged. Phase I is the first face-to-face meeting and will take place from February 15 to 18, 2022. Phase II is a series of self-driven projects completed in the participants’ home communities. Phase III is a second face-to-face meeting one year later, February 14 to 17, 2023. The Phase I and III meetings will focus heavily on interpersonal communication skills, and topics like building team culture, influence, enabling change, and embracing diversity. Phase II will be individually customized with projects and a timeline to achieve personal goals and include virtual meetings and reports. Phase III builds on the skills learned over the first two phases and is planned to include a hard-hitting hot industry topics session.

Holstein Foundation Programs Manager Jodi Hoynoski adds, “We’ve always strived for continual, never-ending improvement in the YDLI program. We are constantly pushing ourselves to provide the content participants need to succeed in today’s dairy business. I can confidently say, the need for authentic communication has never been greater, and we need to support that in YDLI.”

With both the Phase I and III sessions, an optional pre-tour will be offered on Tuesday and a welcome dinner will officially kick off the program on Tuesday night. Interactive workshops will be held all day Wednesday and Thursday and will conclude by Friday at noon. YDLI Class 12 will also have a new location, in Fort Worth, Texas, meeting at a hotel in the heart of the famed Stockyards area.

Several key pieces that have made the YDLI program such a success for the past 25 years will remain intact. Networking has always been a focus, and participants credit YDLI with fostering lifelong friendships. The accountability aspect during Phase II, to put what participants learn in YDLI into practice in real life and report on it, will continue to be part of what makes the YDLI experience so unique. The YDLI Advisory Committee volunteers will serve as mentors and coaches for participants.

Six hundred alumni strong
YDLI is open to young adults, ages 22 to 45, who are involved in the industry as active dairy producers or members of the allied industry. YDLI seeks to attract the brightest and most engaged young adults in the industry and boasts over 600 alumni since the program’s inception in 1993. Applications for YDLI Class 12 are due August 1, 2021. By October 1, top-tier applicants will be selected for the class from across North America, diverse in their backgrounds and roles within the industry. English-speaking international applicants are considered.

If selected as a YDLI class member, participants will need to invest the time required to complete projects. Class members pay a registration fee and their travel and hotel costs. Some scholarships are available for full-time dairy producers who apply. The majority of the program is funded by the Holstein Foundation, thanks to several generous sponsors. To learn more about costs or sponsorship opportunities, as well as find the YDLI application, visit With questions, contact Jodi Hoynoski at

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
May 13, 2021
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