DelVal team excels in North American 
Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

May 01, 2017

Dairy Challenge Team

Credit: NAIDC. DelVal's Team (from left): Tess Stahl '17, Matt Driscoll '18, Dr. Bruce Richards (coach), Matt Ringer '18, and Bridget McConn '17.  

Delaware Valley University participated in the 16th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) held March 30 through April 1 in Visalia, California. In total, 230 students from 37 colleges across the U.S. and Canada attended this educational event. These students are training for careers in the dairy industry as farmers, researchers, educators, financial analysts, nutritionists, farm service providers and veterinarians.

DelVal's team included: Matt Driscoll ’18, Bridget McConn '17, Matt Ringer ’18 and Tess Stahl '17. Amanda Clower ’17 participated in the contest on an aggregate team. Dr. Bruce Richards, a DelVal faculty member, coached the team.

Dairy Challenge® is an innovative three-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. It enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy, while working as part of a four-person team. In its 16-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped train more than 5,000 students through the national contest, Dairy Challenge Academy and four regional contests conducted annually.

Collegiate participants visited seven dairy farms in California, as part of their training to help farmers evaluate and adapt management to optimize success and animal care. Also, industry professionals presented cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

Each contest team received information from an area dairy, including production and farm management data. After an in-person inspection of the dairy, students interviewed the herd owners. Each team developed a farm analysis and recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

The event culminated with team members presenting recommendations and then fielding questions from a panel of judges. These official judges included dairy producers and industry experts in dairy finances, reproduction, nutrition and animal health. Presentations were evaluated for accuracy of analysis and recommendations, with awards presented at a final banquet.

"Participating in Dairy Challenge is a great opportunity and experience for students," said Driscoll, a member of DelVal's team. "They are able to interact with peers from other schools and industry professionals. I have gained a lot more knowledge and insight, and met many new people that I know I'll continue to see in the dairy industry. I have always wanted to see the dairy industry [in California] and being in Dairy Challenge gave me that experience.” 

The Dairy Challenge Academy was developed in 2013 to expand this educational and networking event to more college students. Academy student-participants also analyzed and developed recommendations for operating dairies; however, the Academy was organized in mixed-university teams with two advisors to help coach these younger students.  

DelVal Academy participants included: Lynsey Abrahart '19, Corinne Bricker '18, Matt Edgin '18, Emily Lewis '18, and Bryan Supplee '18.   

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge was established as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. NAIDC is supported completely through generous donations by more than 130 agribusinesses and dairy producers, and programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors. The DelVal Dairy Challenge team would like to thank: Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence for sponsoring the team at a local level, enabling the team to fly to California for the competition.

Stahl, a student participant, said that participating in Dairy Challenge helped her make the decision to attend graduate school. She has been accepted to the University of New Hampshire where she will pursue a master's in animal science.

“Dairy Challenge has changed my life and career path," said Stahl. "Traveling to California was such a wonderful opportunity. I was able to get a taste for how diverse the dairy industry and management practices can be. It has given me perspective on what future employment opportunities could be.”