A College "Test" Like No Other: Western Regional Dairy Challenge

Analyzing a situation, strategizing the fix, and convincing the powers that be – it's an exercise in putting everything college dairy students are taught into one weekend competition - Western Regional Dairy Challenge. The organizing committee has registered over 60 dairy students from eight universities representing five states and one Canadian province at the February 28-March 2, 2013 event in Western Washington. The regional event leads to the national contest of the same format, slated April 4 – 6 2013, in Ft. Wayne, IN.

NAIDC logoRegistered students and coach's hail from Washington State University, California Polytechnic State University, California State University-Fresno, Texas A & M University, University of Alberta, University of California-Davis, University of Idaho and Utah State University.

"The Dairy Challenge is a great learning experience as students have to untangle the many processes that connect and interconnect on successful dairy farms. Moreover, students need to work well as a team to be successful in the contest," says Dr. Larry Fox, Professor of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, part of the industry-driven committee that raises funds and provides organization for the event.

At Dairy Challenge, each team of students puts textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy. Teams inspect an operating dairy, analyze farm data and conduct a question and answer session with farm owners. Then each team develops recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management. Teams will present their recommendations to farm owners, while being evaluated by a panel of five judges – including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and industry personnel.

In addition to the competition, students have the opportunity for networking and education. A Thursday afternoon workshop series features silage making and management by Dr. Keith Bolsen, formerly of Kansas State University; and communicating dairy issues with the public by Michele Ruby, Dairy Management Incorporated.

"The regional committee provides experience, vitality, hard work, and dedication to the event. This regional contest promises to be the biggest in terms of student participation and is made possible by countless hours by volunteers. Sponsorship from the industry appears to be at an all-time high. The Washington dairy industry looks forward to the event and plans to create an exceptional experience for the students," added Fox.

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) – with one national and four regional contests – is fully funded through generous support by 125 agribusinesses and dairy producers, and programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors. Over its 12-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare over 4000 students for careers in the dairy industry, dairy farm management, graduate programs and veterinary medicine.

About Dairy Challenge
NAIDC is an innovative two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. Its mission is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhances the development of the dairy industry and its leaders.

The 2013 national contest will be April 4-6 in Fort Wayne, IN, and hosted by Michigan State University, Ohio State University and Purdue University. Four regional contests are held in late fall and winter; details are at www.dairychallenge.org/calendar_news.php.