DelVal dairy science alum gets degree and heads back to manage family farm
By Madison Moore ’15
For Justin Risser ’06 completing a degree with high honors and getting the most out of a college education was important to him. After graduating, he used all of the hard-earned knowledge gained from the curriculum at DelVal to pursue his passion for dairy farming.
Risser is co-owner of the family farm, Meadow Vista Dairy, LLC in Bainbridge, Pa., where they milk 750 cows and crop 700 acres in corn, alfalfa and rye.
He has used his education to “manage and train a team of 10 employees and to streamline a herd for high efficiency.”
“I’ve also used my knowledge in microbiology and reproductive physiology to start our own on-farm milk culturing,” said Risser. That same knowledge allowed him to teach himself how to ultrasound cows for pregnancy.
While working towards his degree, Risser interned with Agribasics, a regional livestock nutrition solutions consulting company located in Elizabethtown, Pa. Interning, he said, gave him experiences that he took back to the family farm.
While at DelVal, Risser participated in the National Dairy Challenge, which prepares students to “look at dairy farms and problem solve areas of weakness.” He said that this opportunity played a key role when he started working at Meadow Vista Dairy, as he was able to “discern better management strategies to increase production and profitability on our farm.”
The labs at DelVal, particularly with nutrition and forage classes, were also helpful and allowed him to apply what he was learning in the books to real life.
“They got my hands dirty on those topics and helped me understand the material,” said Risser.
Besides gaining all the skills needed to manage an organization, Risser also gained a lifelong partner, his college sweetheart, Melissa (Ridall) Risser ’07. With three kids, he hopes to give them the same education he had at DelVal, so they can pursue their passions as well.