Eighty-six college dairy students participating in the Western Regional Dairy Challenge contest assembled and donated tricycles to the local community, as the result of a team building exercise. Analyzing a situation, strategizing the fix, and convincing the powers that be, Western Regional Dairy Challenge is an exercise that encompasses a college dairy students’ academic career into one weekend-long competition and brings the dairy community together. 

The students, who hail from 10 universities and junior colleges representing five states and one Canadian province, participated February 26 - 28, 2015 in Tulare, California. Headquarters for the event were at the College of the Sequoias, Tulare. Teams worked together and raced to assemble a tricycle, and donated the finished product to local children through the Visalia Rescue Mission, Lighthouse Rescue Mission of Tulare and the Tulare Co. Sheriff's - Police Activity League. 

“Dairy Challenge brings the agriculture community together and we are so grateful to the students, farms and industry leaders that take part in this program. We wanted a way to show our appreciation to the Visalia/Tulare area, to give back to the community that allows us to host this incredible event. Donating the tricycles makes perfect sense,” said Kelsey Cheda, Western Regional Dairy Challenge Volunteer. 

Sheriff Nicholson of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office came to accept several of the tricycles on behalf of the Police Activity League. He expressed his sincere appreciation for the donation and was grateful that the Dairy Challenge program thought of their organization and the children in need. 

In addition to the competition, students have the opportunity for networking and education. Registered students and coaches hailed from Washington State University, California Polytechnic State University- San Luis Obispo, California State University-Fresno, Texas A & M University, University of Alberta, University of California-Davis, University of Idaho, Utah State University, and Oregon State University. For the first time, Merced Junior College sent a team.

At Dairy Challenge, each team of students puts textbook knowledge to practical use. Teams inspect an operating dairy, analyze farm data and conduct a question and answer session with farm owners. Then each team develops recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management. Teams present their recommendations to farm owners, while being evaluated by a panel of five judges – including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and industry personnel. Western Regional Dairy Challenge is organized and administered by a volunteer committee of allied dairy industry representatives.