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Dairy science team garners recognition

May 5, 2011

The UW-River Falls dairy science team took platinum in the 10th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge in Hickory, NC.

The teams presented recommendations to dairy farms and were evaluated by a panel of five judges which included dairy producers, veterinarians and industry personnel.

The team from UWRF was comprised of Alex Geiser, Paul Lippert, Leonard Polzin, and Anne Spillman, coached by Sylvia Kehoe and Dennis Cooper.

Each member received a $200 scholarship.

“And then there are coach activities there, and students actually do most of their own work independently and they can ask questions up to the point where they are actually on the farms,” said Cooper.

The students prepped for the competition with guest lecture from area nutritionist and consultants. They also completed the two dairy management courses at UWRF DASC 406, 436.  They also did a local farm visit to promote familiarity with the team member’s strengths.

“It’s interesting and educational to see farming in another part of the country and see how they do things, and so it’s a good thing to do,” said Cooper.

The team members signed up through the UWRF Dairy Club and their advisors selected a regional and national team from those who signed up.

“We had a strong team this year and its really the student that has to earn this and they are the ones that have to execute and do well, so the credit belongs to them,” said Cooper. “I just hope we can prepare them as well as we can, but they have to take it from there. It was just a good blend of ability that we had this year.”

There were 32 teams from 30 U.S. and Canadian universities that participated in the competition. There were eight teams per farm.

The teams visited the farm, and made measurements and observations.

They were also given computer records and had time to talk with the farm manager.

“It was a learning experience,” said Spillman. “We all learned a tremendous amount from each other. It’s a realistic situation that you are put in because most of us will end up in a dairy consulting position at one point or another in our lives.”

The teams presented recommendations for milking procedures, animal health, reproduction/genetics, milk quality, and financial management.

“The experience was great because unlike the classroom, these are real world situations that producers are in,” Geiser said. “We also had a great team this year with Lenny specializing in financials, Anne strength was milk quality and power point design, and Paul and I put helped put the rest of the presentation together.”

The four teams other teams that were given the platinum award were California State University-Fresno, Cornell University and The Penn State University.

“Dairy Challenge was a great experience for us all,” said Geiser. “And I think we would all agree that it an honor to represent UWRF at the national competition and to bring home the platinum award reiterated why UWRF has one of the best dairy science programs in the nation. “