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.
The VT Dairy Challenge competition team consisted of Katelyn Allen, Sarah Baynard, Kate Ciaston, and Sandra Krone. The coaches of the team were Dr. Gonzalo Ferreira and Dr. Alex White. This year’s Dairy Challenge comprised teams from 35 universities from the US and Canada. Our team analyzed a dairy farm and made recommendations to improve the production and profitability of that farm. The presented their recommendations to a panel of industry judges that consisted of a nutritionist, reproductive specialist, veterinarian, agricultural lender, and a farm producer. Our team did a fantastic job of identifying the key areas of improvement for the farm and making practical recommendations to the farm manager. The team placed 5th in the competition. We are extremely proud of the competition team and the Academy students – they represented VT Dairy Science, the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, and Virginia Tech in an outstanding manner!
The Dairy Science Department at Virginia Tech would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their continued support of the Dairy Challenge class and the Dairy Challenge Academy students: Dr. & Mrs. Ron Pearson, Farm Credit of the Virginias, Colonial Farm Credit, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, Dr. Robert James, Mr. Mark Sowers, The Nathan Hammock Family, Highland Dairy Farm, Kentland Farm, Virginia Dairy Foundation, and the Virginia State Feed Association.