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Almost 50 young adults recently graduated from Class 12 of the Holstein Foundation’s Young Dairy Leaders Institute.

An outstanding group of young dairy professionals demonstrated their “Drive to Thrive” last week during the Holstein Foundation’s Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI). Almost 50 young adults from across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico graduated from Class 12 of YDLI.

The last phase of the three-part leadership program took place February 14-17, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. The culmination of the year long program, Class 12 participants continued to build upon skills gained during Phase I and Phase II of the program.

“YDLI changed my outlook on why I do what I do. Being with some of the brightest young minds in the industry, it continued to push me out of my comfort zone,” says YDLI Cass 12 graduate Marin Western of Lansing, Mich. “YDLI has been the best growth opportunity for me as a young dairy professional.”

During Phase III of the program, Class 12 participants took part in interactive training sessions with industry experts and dynamic leaders. The sessions included topics such as dairy policy, finding quality employees, how to be a relevant leader, and advanced communications coaching.

The immersive experience focuses on forming well-rounded leaders who will be able to create a positive impact in their communities and beyond. Class 12 graduates say in addition to learning how to be effective leaders and promote the dairy industry, they gained many other lifelong skills through YDLI.

“I have learned how to appreciate and value my personal relationships, how to communicate more effectively, and that change, while inevitable, is something to be embraced,” shares YDLI Class 12 graduate Rachel Kurth of New Germany, Minn. “The person I was a year ago is not the same person that is walking out today, and I will carry, and execute, these lessons for the rest of my life.”

The 2023 YDLI Distinguished Alumni Leader Award recipients, Lucas and Alise Sjostrom of Brooten, Minn., were also recognized during the Phase III program.

YDLI would not be possible without the support of many generous sponsors. The Holstein Foundation and Young Dairy Leaders Institute participants are sincerely grateful to the sponsors recognized here.

Platinum sponsors: Allflex Livestock Intelligence/Merck Animal Health, Holstein Association USA, Zoetis, CHS

Gold sponsors: Cargill, Dairy Management, Inc., Farm Credit, Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement, Hoard’s Dairyman, John Deere, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Northeast Agricultural Education Foundation, Inc.

Silver sponsor: Total Dairy Solutions & DeLaval

Bronze sponsors: COBA Select Sires, GEA Farm Technologies, National Dairy Shrine

Applications for YDLI Class 13 will open in the Spring, with applications due August 1, 2023. Visit to learn more, or contact Holstein Foundation Programs Manager Jodi Hoynoski at 800.952.5200 or with questions.

The Holstein Foundation's education, leadership development and outreach programs serve both youth and young adults across the country who are involved with all breeds of dairy cattle.

The Holstein Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1989. It is headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, and shares office space with its parent organization, Holstein Association USA, Inc.