Traveling from three different countries (U.S., Canada and New Zealand) and 16 universities, about 50 young men and women are participating in the 2014 U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium. This six-week course allows these students to hear and learn from esteemed professors from all over the country to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the dairy industry.
Students complete tests at the end of each week to ensure their competence in the information they have been taught. The countless visits to dairies that operate all around the New Mexico and Texas border provide hands-on learning that would otherwise be unavailable for many of the students.
One of the professors, Dr. Pablo Pinedo from Texas A&M, came to speak to the students about herd health and was able to apply what he taught in class with cows provided by an area dairy. Cynthia Becerra, a junior at Texas A&M majoring in food science, said, “It was a better experience because he allowed for a better understanding of the information. We got to see how it all looked on an actual cow rather than just a picture.”
Sponsors of the consortium have also given students rare opportunities to meet with future employers looking for the next generation of workers who are passionate about working in, improving and advocating for the dairy industry. Peter Coenen, a graduate student from Tarleton State University with a masters in animal science, explains how this experience has allowed him to connect with the dairies in the area.
“The dairy consortium gave me the opportunity to meet numerous contacts, and that allowed me to gain a job opportunity with one of the local producers in Clovis, New Mexico,” he said. Coenen is just one of many students dairies and sponsors have been keeping their eyes out for as job candidates to strengthen the industry.
Another student with a bright future in the industry is Jason White, a senior at Oklahoma State University who is double-majoring in animal science and agricultural education.
“This experience has given me hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the dairy industry,” he said. “I feel this will help me in my future internship at AgriVisions, which manages large-scale dairies. It truly makes me feel that I have a leg up on the competition.”
White is one of two students from the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium that AgriVisions chose to participate in its internship program. These young men are great examples of how the consortium positively affects the students involved.
For the past eight years, the consortium has educated hundreds of young adults and enabled them to get a foot in the door of the dairy industry by exposing them to all aspects of the industry, making them assets to any company or producer across the country. PTD
Lindsey Rizer is a junior at the University of Arizona, majoring in agricultural communications.