June 5 2012 10:24 AM

Dairy leadership program will now be held more frequently.

The time for leadership in the dairy industry becomes more critical as producer numbers decline and the number of consumers grow.

YDLI Fortunately, a premier leadership program exists! The Holstein Foundation held its first Young Dairy Leaders Institute in February of 1994. Typically the two-year class started every third year, leaving a one-year break. Starting next year with Class 8, the program will be held in back-to-back years, which will involve more participants in a shortened time frame. While YDLI is a project of the Holstein Foundation, it is available to individuals with any dairy breed affiliation.

This two-year leadership-training program is available to young adults (ages 22 to 45) working in the dairy industry, both on the production side as well as allied fields. Attendees represent all geographic regions and international graduates have hailed from Canada, Mexico and Italy. However, all sessions are conducted in English so participants must be fluent.

This program is not a typical conference where one just sits, listens and learns information. YDLI is a very interactive experience that teaches and trains participants for implementation of leadership skills in the real world of consumers and critics. It is held in three phases. Phase I is the initial conference in New Mexico. During Phase II, participants implement what they have learned at YDLI in their communities. They also interact with fellow classmates throughout the year to keep the momentum and enthusiasm at a higher level. Phase III is held at the original location in Albuquerque. Participants return excited to share their stories and forge ahead with the next level of development in their personal and professional skills.

According to the Holstein Foundation, YDLI participants:
  • Are prepared to take leadership roles in dairy organizations and their communities.
  • Become effective spokespeople and advocates for the dairy industry with consumers and media.
  • Understand current social, political, scientific, organizational and economic issues facing the industry, and how to affect change.
  • Develop interpersonal relationship and communication skills, and have the opportunity to network with like-minded, enthusiastic young people from across the country.
One participant remarked,"I have received much benefit from YDLI, both personally and professionally. My biggest gain was the ability to network with people from many different aspects of the dairy industry from all over the country. It has given me the knowledge to be able to use my voice and stand up to support the industry on key issues that affect producers. YDLI has also given me the confidence to deal with consumers in a positive manner. The knowledge and resources I have gained have been valuable tools to take home and use in my community." – Michelle Ramaeker, YDLI Class 6 graduate and dairy producer, Mountain Grove, Mo.

Class 8 will be held February 6 to 9, 2013 and February 5 to 8, 2014 in Albuquerque, N.M. In the twelve months between classes, YDLI participants conduct projects as part of the program. Some host educational tours on their dairy, others visit classrooms to talk about milk and the dairy industry, and others create their own projects. During the final sessions, class members deliver a 5-minute summary of their activity. Class members can ask questions and the ideas brought forward can be shared with people back in their communities.

Kate Adams of New York describes her activities during Phase II in the video below. She talks about her consumer interview, interacting with the public at the New York State Fair and addressing the local rotary club as she educated others about the dairy industry.

Applications for the upcoming class are due August 1, 2012. Learn more at www.holsteinfoundation.org/YDLI/ydli.html or watch their webinar scheduled for June 15. The Holstein Foundation staff will be hosting an informational webinar for people interested in learning more about Young Dairy Leaders Institute before applying. The webinar is scheduled for Friday, June 15, from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. (Eastern time) and will cover program structure and content, time commitments, and include a question and answer time. A recent YDLI graduate will be on the webinar to address questions from a participant's perspective. To register, click this GotoMeeting link.

Download the YDLI Fact Sheet and application here. YDLI is an investment in yourself and the dairy industry.