Jan. 10 2022 08:00 AM

The United States Dairy Education and Training Consortium is forming the future of dairy in college students every summer.

“Cow Camp” (noun)

Definition: a six-week, transformative, and immersive summer program held every May and June in Clovis, N.M. It draws between 50 and 60 students from across the nation and educates them to become future dairy industry leaders.

Synonym: United States Dairy Education and Training Consortium (USDETC)

In June, I had the privilege of attending the United States Dairy Education and Training Consortium (USDETC), or what is commonly referred to by alumni as “Cow Camp.” This program surpassed my expectations as I met other cow-minded individuals, was taught by top professors in the United States, and learned to critically think about problem solving on a dairy farm.

USDETC brings together students from Cornell, Texas Tech, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma State, and more. It creates an undeniable bond among every participant over six weeks where advisers and strangers become one cohesive family.

Equally important are the various academic professionals we were able to learn from, including Penn State University’s Chad Dechow on breeding and genetics, Virginia Tech’s Robert James on heifer management topics, and Texas A&M’s Jennifer Spencer on reproduction. Local New Mexico and Texas dairies also kindly offered up their farms for tours, critiques, hands-on experiences, and time to ask questions. I was able to evaluate feed rations, perform pregnancy checks, score cows on body condition, and more, some of which I had never done before!

Through this program, I was reminded of what the dairy community means to me. It is home to the most resilient, kind, and generous farmers, who have a very diverse job, possibly the most arduous one in the world. Dairy farming includes the practices of entrepreneurship, math, science, record-keeping, creativity, and more. These are my roots, and I dream of joining their profession in the future, where every day there is a new challenge on the dairy and an innovative solution to fix it.

Cow Camp is available to its participants free of cost, so take this chance to have a “cow-tastic” summer, grow, learn, live, connect, and help to build a more sustainable dairy industry. Learn more at the USDETC website. Applications for the 2022 program are due February 13. If it can change the life of one girl from a dairy farm a couple of states away, it can change yours.

Siena Rollin

Rollin grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Riverdale, Calif. She is a sophomore at Texas Tech University majoring in agricultural communications.