Analyzing a situation, strategizing the fix, and convincing the powers that be to make changes: It’s an exercise putting everything college dairy students are taught into one competition – the Western Regional Dairy Challenge. A record-high 86 dairy students – over 20 more than ever before – will participate this year, Feb. 26 - 28, in Tulare, Calif.
Students will represent 10 universities and junior colleges from five states and one Canadian province. Registered students and coaches hail 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 sends a team.
Headquarters for the event is the College of the Sequoias, Tulare. The regional event leads to the national contest of the same format, to be held April 9-11 2015, in Syracuse, N.Y.
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.
In addition to the competition, students have the opportunity for networking and education. Thursday evening activities feature a presentation on cow comfort, and a team-building exercise. Teams will race to assemble a tricycle and, after finished, the tricycles will be donated to local children through the Visalia Rescue Mission, Lighthouse Rescue Mission of Tulare and the Tulare Co. Sheriff's Police Activity League.
Western Regional Dairy Challenge is organized and administered by a volunteer committee of allied dairy industry.
North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC), with one national and four regional contests, is fully funded through support by 125 agribusinesses and dairy producers, and programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors. Over its 13-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare over 4,000 students for careers in the dairy industry, dairy farm management, graduate programs and veterinary medicine.