Eighty-three students from ten western US and one Canadian universities and colleges traveled to Tulare, California for the 10th annual Western Regional Dairy Challenge on February 26 – 28, 2015. Headquarters for the contest was the College of the Sequoias (COS) Tulare campus.

The Western Regional Dairy Challenge is a three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for dairy careers. Working in mixed-university teams of five or six students, participants assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction, and animal health. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges. Teams were ranked based on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ evaluations of the dairy operation.

On Thursday students listened to a cow comfort seminar given by Megan Mouw of Novus International and participated in a team building activity led by Dairy Challenge alumni. As part of the team-building, students assembled and raced tricycles, which were later donated to the Visalia Rescue Mission, Lighthouse Rescue Mission of Tulare and the Tulare Co. Sheriff's - Police Activity League.

Jay teVelde and Tyler Van Grouw welcomed the teams to their farm on Friday and participated in a question and answer session with students. Dr. Larry Dutto, Provost at COS welcomed the group and coordinated facility use. There were also several sponsors attending the event who were able to network with the students throughout the weekend. Students made observations and presented them to a panel of judges made up of a nutritionist, a veterinarian, a financer, and a dairy producer who ranked them on their conclusions and performance. 

Platinum teams:

Team 1 Wildcats: Anthony Alamo, Cal Poly – SLO; Stephanie Webb, Washington State University; Nathanael Caires, University of Idaho; Lacey Papageorge, Utah State University; Clinton Lundell, Merced Community College

Team 4 Black Aces: Kelly Hipwell, Utah State University; Elizabeth Swan Gist, Cal Poly – SLO; John Schoneveld, Cal Poly –SLO; Elizabeth Lockyer, University of Idaho; Brandon Nickels, Washington State University

Team 7 Diamondbacks: Victoria Perira, California State University- Fresno; Chance Boyer, Utah State University; Emilie Baerends, University of Alberta; Wyatt Sherron, Merced Community College; Amy McBirney, Cal Poly – SLO 

Team 10 Kestrels: Blythe Shill, Texas A & M University; Emily Beebe, Washington State University; Russell Pate, Cal Poly – SLO; Rebecca Thomas, Oregon State University; Sarah Herrmann, University of Idaho

Gold teams:

Team 2 Tophatters: Alexandria Brown, University of Idaho; Preston Fernandes, Cal Poly – SLO; Teanna Beckstead, Utah State University; Marcelo Martinez, Washington State University; Toni Silva, Cal Poly – SLO

Team 5 Sidewinders: Anton Fernandes, Merced Community College; Megan Machado, Cal PolySLO; Jacob Macedo, California State University – Fresno; Sarah Beukema, University of Alberta; Dylan Burrows, University of Idaho

Team 14 Dambusters: Quincy Sadowski, Utah State University; Alison Sherman, Cal Poly-SLO; Danny Moretti, Oregon State University; Kelsey Bitter, Texas A & M University; Stacy Williams, University of California – Davis

Team 15 Argonauts: Michael Azevedo, California State University – Fresno; Jennifer Callahan, Washington State University; Tyson Grisenti, Utah State University; Lauren Fontenot, Texas A & M University; Dominic Balistreri, Cal Poly – SLO

A committee of dairy industry representatives organized the Challenge. A long list of volunteers was important to the competition’s success. To volunteer or become a sponsor for the 2015 contest, contact Shawna Martinho at shawna.martinho@churchdwight.com. All contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Contributing sponsor listings are available on the website. The Western Regional Dairy Challenge is under the guidance and support of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC), which was established in April 2002 as a management contest to incorporate evaluation of all aspects of a specific dairy business. For more information, visit www.dairychallenge.org. The regional event leads to the national contest of the same format, held April 9 - 11 2015, in Syracuse, NY.