A team of dairy science students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech recently garnered a second-place finish in the 12th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge. 

The team went up against 223 competitors from 37 colleges and universities hailing from throughout the United States and Canada. Virginia Tech has historically performed well at this event with teams occupying first or second place in eight of the previous 12 contests.   

The Dairy Challenge is a two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. The contest’s mission is to facilitate education, communication, and an exchange of ideas between students, agribusinesses, dairy producers, and universities in order to enhance the development of the dairy industry and its leaders. The competition was held from April 4-6 in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Dairy science seniors who competed in this year’s challenge were

• Tyler Boyd of Parrottsville, Tenn.;
• Alli Davis of Philadelphia, Tenn.;
• Isaac Hammock of Chatham, Va.; and
• Elizabeth Sumners of Paris, Tenn.

Students prepared for the competition with coaching help from Dairy Science Professor Bob James and Mark Hanigan, David R. and Margaret Lincicome professor of agriculture, as well as assistance from graduate student Stephanie Neal.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase the dairy management knowledge of our students,” said Bob James, who is also a Virginia Cooperative Extension Dairy Coordinator. “The students learn a lot in the process of preparing and it’s an opportunity for them to put classroom theory into practice.  Our teams continue to represent Virginia Tech very well in this elite international competition."

The contest tested textbook and practical knowledge of each team by challenging the students to analyze dairy farm businesses from the financial books to the milk production. The contest began with teams evaluating production and financial records and included a two-hour visit to one of the four host dairies. In the afternoon, teams assembled presentations containing recommendations to improve the businesses, and presented their findings to a panel of five industry experts.

The event was co-hosted by Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State universities and coordinated this year by Extension Dairy Scientist David R. Winston of Virginia Tech.

The Dairy Challenge competition has helped train over 3,500 students throughout its 11-year history.



Written by Amy Loeffler.