July 2, 2010

University Kentucky College of Agriculture  students won a gold placing in the ninth annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge in Visalia, Calif. Hosted by California Polytechnic State University and California State University, Fresno, 28 teams from the United States and two teams from Canada competed.

The UK team included Rebekah Chmielewski, Curtis Coombs, Brady Core and Katie Sheaffer. Donna Amaral-Phillips, UK extension professor and dairy nutritionist, and Jeffrey Bewley, UK assistant professor, coached the team.

Amaral-Phillips said the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge is an innovative two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. It enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy, while working as part of a four-person team.

On the first day of the challenge, each team received information about a working dairy, including production and farm management data. After an in-person inspection of one of four designated dairies, participants interviewed the herd managers. Then each team developed a farm analysis and presentation, including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

On day two, team members presented their recommendations to a panel of judges and then fielded questions from them. The judges evaluated presentations based on the teams’ analyses and recommendations. The evening concluded with a reception and awards banquet.

The North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge was established as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. Organizers strive to incorporate a higher-learning atmosphere with practical application to help prepare students for careers in the dairy industry. Supported financially through donations by agribusinesses and coordinated by a volunteer board of directors, the first challenge was held in 2002. For more information, visit http://www.dairychallenge.org.

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