Have you ever wondered what it would be like to consult for dairies and help farmers better manage their operations? Now you can—before you graduate from college!

Students participating in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge competition evaluate an operating dairy farm and provide recommendations for improving the dairy’s bottom line. Teams use records, personal observations and interview time with the producer to prepare their 20-minute presentation for a panel of judges and the producer.
Four regional contests—Western, Midwest, Northeast and Southern—are held each year in preparation for the national competition. Each school can send four students to nationals and those four work as a team. At the regional level, teams are comprised of a mix of students from various universities in the region.

Since a few of the regional meetings are held in the fall, many teams have kick started their training. If you are interested in participating, ask your dairy advisor (if you do not know who the coach is) who to talk to at your university. You will be glad you did.

Networking with industry professionals and fellow university students from different states was one of my favorite parts of the competition. I competed in California in 2008 and while my team did not bring home Platinum honors, I gained so much from participating. Touring dairies is my idea of a good weekend, so this was the perfect competition for me. I was the “nutrition expert” on my team so I analyzed dry matter intakes, ration components, silage pits, feed bunks and more. I learned more from the competition than I did in most of my classes. If you are interested in dairy, you need to participate in Dairy Challenge.

With the right mix of networking, knowledge and fun, the competition leaves quite an impression on everyone involved. Your fellow students will be your colleagues in the dairy industry in a few years, so get out there, learn a lot and have a blast!

For more information, check out www.dairychallenge.org.

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