The Department of Dairy Science offers the chance to study in a small, internationally recognized department that specializes in offering research, travel and competitive opportunities to our students. We invite you to bring your interest in animals and let us prepare you for an exciting career in a dynamic industry with a major that has a 100% placement of graduating seniors.
Daniel J. Myers and Teresa Callendar to be inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame
The well-known Holstein breeding establishment, Walkup Farm in Harrisonburg, Virginia, combines the efforts of Dan Myers and daughter, Teresa Callender, and their families. Well known for quality genetics, they are even more well known as farmers who have a passion for the dairy industry and are well respected by the community and their fellow producers. (Nominated By the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association) Read about all inductees...
Barnes to Receive National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award
(From Dairy Shrine press release)
Five outstanding individuals are being honored with National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award this year in recognition of their longtime service and contributions to the dairy cattle industry. The five join an elite group of industry leaders whose stories and portraits are part of Dairy Shrine’s National Dairy Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Dr. Michael A. Barnes of Blacksburg, Virginia, a longtime Dairy Science Department professor and dairy cattle judging team coach at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is among this year’s Pioneer honorees.
Mike Barnes’s interest in dairy cattle was sparked when this small town boy went to work on a nearby Connecticut dairy farm as a teenager. After graduating with a degree in dairy science from the University of Connecticut in 1965, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served his country in Vietnam. Upon returning home, he completed both Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in reproductive physiology at UConn. After running a dairy farm with a friend for a few years, he was recruited in 1978 by Clemson University as an Assistant Professor for their Dairy Science Department. In 1981, he moved to Virginia Tech where he was a highly regarded Dairy Science Department professor, advisor and judging team coach and later Professor Emeritus. Barnes retired in 2016 after 35 distinguished years at Virginia Tech.
One of Virginia Tech’s most effective and well-respected instructors, Barnes taught classes in dairy cattle selection, reproductive and lactation physiology, and reproductive management. He conducted research and wrote many scientific papers on the physiology of reproduction and lactation. His ability to teach both the “practical” and the “theory” earned him many outstanding teaching awards. In 1989, he received the prestigious William E. Wine Teaching Award, the highest teaching accolade given at Virginia Tech, regardless of discipline. He has also received the Purina Mills National Teaching Award, Virginia Tech’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumni Award, and the American Dairy Science Association’s Student Affiliate Advisor Award.
Barnes, however, was more than a gifted teacher say his former students. “He was a highly effective academic advisor, judging coach and mentor that impacted decades of students who branched out into all corners of the dairy industry,” says Tom Harkenrider of ABS Global. Barnes served as an academic advisor to over 500 Virginia Tech Dairy Science students during his career. His “everyman” quality enabled him to “connect and motivate students from all backgrounds and ability levels and bring out the best in them as students and industry leaders,” says Douglas McCullough of Johnson & Johnson. “Dr. Barnes was universally revered by his students because he spent the time to understand each individual and develop their own strengths and interests, while making it clear he wanted to graduate well-rounded adults” says Jacob Pieper of Phibro Animal Health. As Angie Coburn of AgSource Dairy says of her former teacher, “Dr. Barnes didn’t consider his job done until a student graduated WITH a job.”
Barnes spent over 40 years as a dairy cattle judging team coach, coaching teams at UConn, Clemson and Virginia Tech. He instilled in his teams not only the ability to evaluate animals, but to develop strong decision-making and communication skills. During Barnes’s years at Virginia Tech, he coached five National Champion judging teams (1984, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013) and three High Individuals (1991, 2005 and 2013).
Barnes’s unparalleled commitment to excellence, his unflinching honesty, humility, and great sense of humor made him popular among his students. He never hesitated, however, to have hard conversations with his students if he felt they weren’t delivering their best. In addition to coaching, he was also an advisor to Virginia Tech’s Dairy Science Club for over 20 years.
During his years at Virginia Tech, and now in retirement, Barnes has also done international dairy management consulting in South America, the Middle East, Europe and Japan.
Dr. Mike Barnes will be recognized with the Pioneer Award at the 2019 National Dairy Shrine Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 3rd in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information about the banquet, or the students, producers and dairy industry individuals being recognized by National Dairy Shrine, contact National Dairy Shrine’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Dairy Shrine and how to become a member, visit www.dairyshrine.org.
The first hole-in-one in Hokie Cow Classic history!
Dr. Frank Gwazdauskas shot a hole-in-one! 'Gwaz' (as he's affectionately known in the Dairy Science Department) generously donated the prize to the Hokie Cow Classic Scholarship Fund in support of our students.
Congrats and a BIG Thank-You to Dr. G!
Katelyn Allen of Jefferson, Maryland named Dairy Science Outstanding Senior!
Katelyn Allen is obtaining a degree in dairy science with a minor in communications. Katelyn is the recipient of numerous scholarships, including the Paul M. Reaves Outstanding Senior Scholarship and the Dairy Foundation of Virginia Scholarship, and has received dean’s list recognition. By combining her interests in dairy science and communications, Katelyn is able to take what she’s learned in coursework for her major and minor and develop the ability, as she put it, “to share the story of agriculture.” As advertising chair for Milky Way, the Dairy Club yearbook, she was instrumental in the development of more efficient ways to communicate with alumni and potential advertisers, and as Collegiate FFA reporter, she developed content to represent Virginia agriculture at the National FFA Convention. In her capacity, as President of Alpha Zeta, Katelyn provided leadership on agricultural advocacy events, including National Farmer’s Day, and helped with fundraising for Micah’s Backpack. As an FFA state officer in Maryland, she conducted mock interviews to support students interested in running for state FFA office. Katelyn also helped with the Hokie Dairy Day event which brought 4-H youth to Virginia Tech to learn about the dairy industry through hands-on activities. Katelyn’s career goals include pursuing agriculture public relations and communications. She plans on working for an agriculture publication after graduation.
- Building Tomorrow's Dairy Leaders at Dairy Challenge (read about Katelyn's experience with Dairy Challenge)
- 2019 CALS Outstanding Seniors by Department
Haley Huffard awarded 2019 DASC Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award
Haley Huffard is a Masters student working with Dr. Katharine Knowlton. She is from Crockett, VA, where she grew up on an all-Jersey dairy farm. Haley completed her Bachelor of Science in Food Science & Technology at Virginia Tech. Haley's current research focuses on the maternal influences and sources of variation in the microbiome of pre-weaned calves as well as the relationship with calf health and growth outcomes. She was awarded the department's 2019 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award and will finish her research in June. She plans to pursue a career that will allow her to focus on improving calf health and management practices.
2019 Little All-American
Congratulations to this year's winners, show and banquet chairs, and all the students that participated in the 2019 Little All-American Dairy Show! Vermont freshman, Elizabeth Menard, was this year's Grand Champion. Shelby Iager won Reserve Grand Champion. See all...
Four 2019 Outstanding DASC Alumni Honored by CALS!
Outstanding Recent Alumni in Academia:
2006, M.S. Dairy Science; 2010, Ph.D. Animal Sciences
Dairy Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Distinguished Alumni in Academia:
Geoffrey E. Dahl
1987, M.S. Dairy Science
Professor and Harriet B. Weeks Professorship Endowed Chair, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida Gainesville, Florida
2018-2019 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge and Academy
Eight Dairy Science students from Virginia Tech traveled to Tifton, GA, March 28-30 for the 2019 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge. Four of these students participated in the Dairy Challenge Academy. The Dairy Challenge Academy is an educational opportunity that helps students synthesize all of their science, production, and business management knowledge. These students worked with students from other universities from across the US and Canada to identify potential issues on an actual dairy farm and develop recommendations for improving the profitability of the farm. Industry personnel from around the US mentored the Academy students to help them apply their education to real world applications. The VT students who participated in the Dairy Challenge Academy were Kennedy Crothers, Ellie Grossnickle, Sarah Thomas, and Becky Wilkins. Article...
The Dairy Club at Virginia Tech named Outstanding Chapter!
The club was named the outstanding chapter at the ADSA-SAD Southern Regional Conference in February 2019! Catherine Savage was elected third vice president for the 2019-2020 officer team.
Club scrapbook and reports -1st
Quiz bowl - 3rd
Production division paper presentation- Kate Ciaston
Original research paper presentation- Connor Rudd
Dairy food division paper presentation- Leah Jenkins
Dairy Club visits the Netherlands!
R. Michael Akers honored with emeritus status
R. Michael Akers, professor and former head of the Department of Dairy Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor Emeritus of Dairy Science by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Read the full VTNews article...
2018 Dairy Judging Team at World Dairy Expo...
The 2018 Dairy Judging team placed 2nd Overall and 2nd in Reasons! Senior, Shelby Iager shined as she won high individual overall at World Dairy Expo, which was held October 2-6, 2018 in Madison, WI.
The team had a wonderful day at World Dairy Expo and represented Virgina Tech well! The team members are Katelyn Allen, Leah Hall, Shelby Iager, and Sarah Thomas. Kayla Umbel is the assistant coach and Dr. Katharine Knowlton is the coach.
Additionally, Shelby won THREE breeds and Katelyn won 11th overall. Katelyn, Shelby and Sarah were all named All- Americans.
The 2018 Judging Team off to a great start in New England!
The season started with both teams competing in the Eastern States contest in Massachusetts. Team A won High Team in Jerseys and in Oral Reasons, and was 4th overall. They were led by Katelyn Allen, 1st overall as well as 1st in Ayrshires, Milking Shorthorns, Jerseys, and Guernseys. Sarah was 2nd in reasons, Shelby 3rd, Katelyn 6th, and Kavita 8th. A team won Jerseys and was high team in oral reasons. more...
Dr. David Gerrard
Interim Department Head
Interested in applying to Virginia Tech? Come to the Dairy Science Open House for high school and transfer students.
Friday evening, November 1 and all-day on Saturday, November 2!
Open House (pdf)
Location: Food Science Building, 360 Duck Pond Drive
Upcoming Extension activities...
Follow VT DASC:
Dairy Judging 101 videos
by Dr. Katharine Knowlton and members of the Virginia Tech Judging Team
Visit YouTube Channel: Virginia Tech Dairy Cattle Judging for more judging videos!