One progressive organization having an impact on the future of the dairy industry is the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC). Since the program was founded in 2002, Dairy Challenge has reached more than 6,200 students, teaching them critical thinking, decision-making, team building and communications skills.
About Dairy Challenge
Dairy Challenge is an interactive competition of teams from North American dairy science programs. For 16 years, Dairy Challenge has connected students and universities with producers and industry professionals in a forum that is educational and fun.
Recently NAIDC held its national event in Visalia, Calif., bringing together 235 students as part of the Dairy Challenge national contest and academy. Students worked as teams to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy farm. Teams received data from the dairy, including production, herd management and financial records. They then visited the farm to analyze all aspects of the operation and developed comprehensive recommendations to maximize herd profit through nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, facilities and cow comfort. Finally, teams presented to a panel of judges that assessed their recommendations.
This year’s event showcased the industry’s best and brightest dairy students who will become tomorrow’s dairy leaders, as dairy producers, industry professionals or other supporters of the dairy industry. The experiential learning opportunity at Dairy Challenge also involved networking with industry sponsors, including Farm Credit.
Farm Credit’s Involvement
Farm Credit recognizes the tremendous value that Dairy Challenge brings to the industry and is a 12-star platinum sponsor of the program, which includes the national events and four regional events. At the local level, many Farm Credit associations are actively involved in the regional Dairy Challenge events with the opportunity to interact one-on-one with students as judges, advisors/mentors and volunteers.
Farm Credit has been a long-time supporter of Dairy Challenge. Several Farm Credit staff serve in leadership positions on regional and national committees. They are often involved as speakers at Dairy Challenge events on dairy finances, a critical part of analyzing any dairy farm.
Beyond the impact Farm Credit staff has with students, Dairy Challenge also supports Farm Credit’s lending base, with many event host farms being Farm Credit customer-owners. Insights from students and a panel of experienced judges give the farms insights and areas for potential improvement.
Farm Credit’s many contributions to Dairy Challenge align with its focus on young, beginning and small farmers. Today’s Dairy Challenge students are tomorrow’s dairy leaders, and Farm Credit is pleased to be a part in supporting the future of the dairy industry.