2023 National Dairy Challenge

Posted: April 18, 2023

Podcast Topic

The North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge Contest is a two-day event that brings together students from around the world to gain real life, hands-on experience and learn from industry experts. Gathering together to discuss the 21st Annual Dairy Challenge are organizers, Amy tePlate-Church, Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Kristi Fiedler and Barry Putnam.


Dairy Challenge Organizers, Producers, Coaches and Student Winners

Episode 67: 2023 National Dairy Challenge


Fielder, Dairy Sales Manager for Cargill and Board Chair for the Dairy Challenge Committee began the conversation, explaining the value of Dairy Challenge as a networking opportunity for the next generation. (3:29)

Each team has four students and this year there were 31 competing teams. In addition, 142 students participated in the 10th Anniversary of the Academy, an intensive training program in conjunction with the Dairy Challenge contest. The Dairy Challenge is all about the next generation, Church mentioned. She said she believes it’s one place where students get the chance to meet many dairy leaders from various sectors, while growing and developing their skills at the same time. (3:58)

Host producers also joined in for the National Dairy Challenge Conversation, including Maxwell Chittenden from Dutch Hallow, Liam Hanahan from Turning Point Dairy and Kyle Getty from Ideal Dairy. As host farms, Hanehan shared that each producer opens up their operations for two hours during Dairy Challenge for students to take tours and analyze their facilities, cows and even records. He went on to say that bringing a fresh set of eyes is a bit scary, but the students think big picture and usually are able to point out great strengths and weaknesses. (12:13)

Not only do the students learn, but so do the producers. Getty said oftentimes students point out things they’ve missed or even offer feedback that turns into a simple fix. (16:50)

Stuart and Jessica Ziehm with Tiashake Farm were the 2023 Dairy Challenge Academy Host Dairy Producers. Sharing a few stories from the Academy, Jessica said they recently renovated a 200 year old barn into a farm store as an opportunity to not only sell their beef and pork products, but also other local products. She mentioned having students visit was a great opportunity that they hope to continue into the future. (25:09)

Also joining around the pub are National Dairy Challenge coaches Dr. Shaun Wellert, Dr. Joe Domecq and Dr. Lauren Mayo. Selecting just four students for each team is not an easy task, but Dr. Domecq said the process is simple as students develop new skills fairly quickly. As coaches, they figure out who works best together and their individual strengths. 33:29

Dr. Wellert shifted the conversation briefly, sharing a few changes he’s seen over the last decade. He mentioned that ten years ago each student was from an agricultural background, but now trends show only one student out of seven is from a dairy or has any industry background. (35:61)

Closing the conversation, Dr. Jeff Elliot, podcast co-host and technical service specialist for Balchem mentioned the 2023 four first place teams, students and their individual studies of interest.

Placing first at the Dairy Challenge was four students from the University of Guelph including Madeline McClennan (Animal Biology), Allison Visser (Honors Agriculture), Corine Bateman (Food and Agricultural Business) and Johnathan Koot (Animal Science).

In addition, Emily Starceski (Animal Science), Kevin Jess (Ag Science and Animal Science), Blake Wadsworth (Animal Science) and Caroline Lafferty (Agricultural Business) all students at Cornell University placed first as well. The University of Wisconsin River Falls team also won and included Alison Wagner (Dairy Science), Grace Haase (Agricultural Business), Ben Stone (Chemistry) and Haley Kirchoff (Agribusiness). Lastly, was Purdue University. Team members included Lane Bollenbach (Animal Science), Chad Patterson (Agriculture Systems Management), Tobyn Smith (Animal Science), Miriam Cook (Agriculture Economics).

Congratulations to all participating teams from the 2023 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge!

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