Fort Wayne, Ind., will host 230 students from 37 college dairy programs for the Dairy Challenge Academy and contest, April 4-6. This North American event is being hosted by Purdue University, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University.

Students are converging in Fort Wayne from all corners of the U.S. – from Maine to California and Washington to Florida – plus two Canadian provinces. These students are training to be leaders in dairy careers – future dairy farmers, researchers, educators, financial analysts, nutritionists, farm service providers and veterinarians.

Collegiate participants will visit five dairies in the Fort Wayne area to learn how to best help dairy farmers evaluate and adapt their farm management to meet operational goals and profit expectations. Dairy industry experts will present cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC)  is fully funded through generous support by 130 agribusinesses and dairy producers. This year, 2013, brings the first-ever Dairy Challenge Academy, which expands the educational program and enables 100 more collegiate students to participate. This is also the first time Indiana has hosted the national event, although Purdue University hosted the Midwest regional in 2008.

“Dairy Challenge program has provided a splendid opportunity for our students to integrate what they learn in classes with real-world situations, use problem-solving skills and network with leaders in the dairy industry,” states Maurice Eastridge, 2013 event chair and professor at The Ohio State University.

“Dairy Challenge has become a critical activity in teaching efforts at Purdue – and other universities – because it transforms the lives of excellent dairy students,” adds Dr. Michael M. Schutz, Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University. 

Over its 12-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare over 4000 students for careers in dairy and agriculture. At Dairy Challenge, each team of students puts textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy. Teams inspect an operating dairy, analyze farm data and conduct a question-answer session with farm owners. Then each team develops recommendations for the dairy, which will be presented to farm owners and a panel of five judges – including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and industry personnel.

“Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State are pleased to team up and host the 2013 national program and the first Dairy Challenge Academy in Fort Wayne,” continues Eastridge. “The strength of the dairy programs within these three universities - along with strong dairy leadership in this tri-state area – lends for an ideal host site. This is truly an opportunity to showcase the Midwest dairy industry and develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”