April 9, 2009

A team of four students from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture won a Silver Award in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge recently held in Syracuse, N.Y.

A total of 29 teams from the United States and two from Canada competed in the eighth annual event, hosted by the Northeast Region NAIDC committee.

The UK Dairy Challenge team, coached by UK Animal and Food Sciences faculty members Jeffrey Bewley and Donna Amaral-Phillips, consisted of Nancy Chenault, Pine Ridge; Keegan Gay, Lawrenceburg; Andy Mains, Falmouth and Marlene Tremblay of Pittsburgh, Pa.

"We're really proud of this team," Bewley said. "They were able to take what they are learning in the classroom and put it to use in a real-world type experience. It's an excellent way to help our students get a feel of how their lives might be after graduation."

Dairy Challenge was designed by allied dairy industry professionals and university educators to bring classroom training to life in the real world for students preparing for dairy careers.

The UK team spent two days at the contest. On the first day, they combed through cow and farm management data, as well as financial records, then conducted an on-site evaluation. Later that day, they also interviewed the farm owner.

After they identified opportunities to increase efficiency and profitability for the herd owner, the team presented its findings to a judging panel comprised of a dairy business owner and four experts in dairy nutrition, herd health, reproduction and financial management. Teams were judged on their analysis of the operation, recommendations and overall presentation.

"Besides being the best training of students for what they will face in the future, the Dairy Challenge contest brings together the whole dairy industry for a great common goal, "said reproduction expert and judge Ray Nebel of Select Sires Inc. "The knowledge, excitement, enthusiasm and teamwork displayed by the students at the 2009 dairy challenge made me feel good about the future of the dairy industry and the outstanding leaders it will have."

The mission of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhance the development of the dairy industry and its leaders.

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