Georgia hosts 2019 Dairy Challenge – 18th in the Series!

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Source: Renee Smith, Dairy Challenge Publicity

Tifton, GA, March 30, 2019:     Collegiate dairy students – 240 in total – from 29 different states and Canadian provinces traveled to Georgia for the 18th annual Dairy Challenge.® This trip to the Southern Region of the dairy industry was a great chance for students to put to use all they have learned about analyzing dairy farms and learn new things about this unique region for dairy.

Tifton, Georgia, was home base for the 2019 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) held March 28th to the 30th, with eight area dairies participating in the educational event. Dairy students from 44 colleges worked to improve their dairy management and communication skills, networked with other students, and explored industry careers.

“Dairy Challenge represents all that is great about the dairy industry, as we see dairy producers, universities and industry professionals all come together to provide these students – the next generation – be prepared to enter the workforce and make great contributions to dairy’s future,” explained Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Professor and Extensions Dairy Specialist at The Ohio State University and NAIDC Board Chairperson.

Dairy Challenge is a unique, real-world experience where dairy students work as a team and apply their college coursework to evaluate and provide solutions for an operating dairy farm. In Tifton, two programs ran concurrently – the 18th annual Dairy Challenge contest and the seventh annual Dairy Challenge Academy. The events were coordinated by the NAIDC Board of Directors and the Southern Regional planning committee.

This year’s contest participants included 36 universities, whose four-person teams competed for awards based on the quality of the teams’ farm analysis and appropriate solutions. Their farm presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and seasoned agribusiness personnel.

The Academy added another 7 schools to the event, providing interactive training for 96 students from four-year universities or two-year dairy programs. Academy participants were divided into smaller groups including students from various schools, and dairy industry volunteers worked as advisors to coach these less-experienced Academy participants as they assessed the dairy and developed recommendations.

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Dairy Challenge Applies Learning to a Real-world Dairy

Over its 18-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped more than 6,900 students prepare for careers in the dairy industry, dairy production and veterinary medicine.

The three-day event began with learning stations at Pecan Grove Dairy and Grassy Flats Dairy, where students learned from industry experts on cow comfort, milking protocols, feed center management and other key areas. Back at the University of Georgia – Tifton Convention Center, students enjoyed pecan pie and peach cobbler, as they poured over the in-depth dairy records for their assigned dairy.

Day two began with the on-farm analysis, with all students having just two hours to visit their assigned dairy and witness the dairy’s operations. After a question & answer session with the farm owners and advisors, the student teams developed specific recommendations on the areas they thought the dairy should focus on to make the greatest impact on improving their business.  These suggestions are accompanied by an economic assessment of their recommendations.

On Day Three, students presented their assessments and conclusions to the judging panel, visited with sponsors at the Career and Innovation Fair, and learned through dairy technology presentations from top Dairy Challenge sponsors. These talks were presented by:

·         Melissa Redd, Regional Lending Manager, AgGeorgia Farm Credit – “More than a Loan, A Relationship”

·         Jorin Ouwinga, Dairy Specialist, Land O’Lakes, Inc. – “Don’t Limit Your Expectations”

·         Josh Hushon, US Dairy Marketing Communications Lead, Cargill – “Farm Decision Making: Unlocking the Power of Data and Analytics”

·         Kristi Fielder, Director of Production, URUS – “Inside the Bull Barn: The Other Side of the A.I. Industry”

·         Jack Hippen, North American and EU Sales Director, ST Genetics – “Preparing for the Real World in Agriculture”

·         Dave Whitlock, Regional Sales Manager Southern Region, Premier Select Sires – “Don’t Strive to Survive Through Change but Rather Thrive with Change.”

 

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Eight College Teams Earn Top Awards

At Saturday evening’s banquet, the following contest teams and students were announced as First Place winners, with each student receiving a $200 scholarship.

·         California Polytechnic State University: Hank DeVries, Alexandra Gambonini, Elisabeth Regusci, Elise Regusci, Coached by David Vagnoni

·         Michigan State University: Monika Dziuba, Lauren Heberling, Ariana Negreiro, Jared Sanderson, Coached by Roger Thompson

·         Texas A&M University: Haley Hill, John Leibham, Marta Pulfer, William Wolf, Coached by Sushil Paudyal

·         Washington State University: Olivia Brockhaus, Colton Bunyard, Morgan Hawley, Taylor Wilson, Coached by John Swain

Teams and students earning Second Place and $100 student scholarships include:

·         University of Wisconsin – Madison:  Rachel Gerbitz, Zachary Lensmire, Riley Miller, Danielle Warmka, Coached by Ted Halbach and Dave Combs

·         University of Guelph: Julie French, Lauren Westerlaken, David Westerveld, Jenna Wight, Coached by Trevor DeVries and Matt Groen

·         Cornell University: Benjamin Dye, Nolan Feldpausch, Simon Johnson, Christopher Sweeney, Coached by Mike Van Amburgh

·         SUNY Morrisville:  Austin Graham, Janet Hanehan, Kayla Heineman, Katherine Schultes, Coached by Steve Mooney

All Dairy Challenge contest participants received a lifetime membership to Dairy Shrine.

Total Industry Effort

Six dairy farms opened their farms for analysis and in exchange received a wealth of ideas from students and judges. Host farms for the 2019 Dairy Challenge were:

·         Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC, Americus, GA

·         Barrington Dairy LLC, Montezuma, GA

·         BrooksCo Dairy LLC, Quitman, GA

·         Schaapman Holsteins, Abbeville, GA

·         Highbrighton Dairy, Montezuma, GA

·         WestBrook Dairy, Dixie, GA

·         Pecan Grove Dairy, Baconton, GA

·         Grassy Flats Dairy LLC, Pavo, GA

“On behalf of all the students and organizers, we sincerely thank the hundreds of individuals and organizations that made this event possible,” said Jillian Bolan, Co-Chair of the event. “We look forward to interacting with these students as they continue onto careers as dairy owners, managers, consultants and the many other support roles that make dairy possible.”

About Dairy Challenge

NAIDC is an innovative event for students in dairy programs at North American post-secondary institutions. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. Over its 18-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 6,900 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals. The next national event will be hosted in Green Bay, Wisconsin on March 26-28, 2020.  Four regional events will be held in late fall and winter; details are at www.dairychallenge.org.

 

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A UT National Championship – Born of Corn, with TN Ag!

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A #FlashbackFriday – 20 year Anniversary post looking back at UT’s National Championship Win in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4, 1999!  Ag was involved! 

[[ Note – this was originally published on 9 January 1999, in a column I contributed to the Kingsport Times-News. ]]

“Corn may not grow at all on Rocky Top, but it had a huge impact on the harvest of college football’s national championship bu a Big Orange combine!

Yup, in more ways than one, summer’s slim stalks with big ears mean that we vapid Volunteer fans can at last sigh with satisfaction that a crystal football will now adorn the University of Tennessee’s trophy case! Whoever would have thought that something as humble as a kernel-filled, cylindrical-shaped object born of the soil would give birth to the reality that Tennessee footballs now reigns as pigskin royalty?

This championship born of corn actually took root last January when those corn-fed Nebraska ‘Huskers shucked our fair Vols of all hope of a ’97 championship in the Jan. 1998 Orange Bowl, whenNebraska won 42-17.  Fulmer and staff, although disappointed, made the best of the situation and learned what proper nutrition and conditioning contributed to crossing the Championship line, and they worked harder.

And, as Tee Martin and Peerless Price and Al Wilson entered spring practice with a newfound determination, so farmers entered their fields to plant seeds of corn destined to help pay for a BCS National Championship game.

It took 160,000 acres of prime cropland to grow the specialized white corn which ended up as the primary sponsor of the ‘Tostitos’ Fiesta Bowl!

Since Frito-Lay needs over 300 million pounds of corn to fill America’s demand for Tostitos, these corn fields need to be as proficient at kicking out kernels as Jeff Hall is at kicking points between the uprights!  All told, Frito-Lay utilizes over 1 billion pounds of shelled corn each year to fill all of its corn snack sales!

Tostitos became the Fiesta Bowl sponsor in 1996, and thus began a corn farmer’s contribution to Phillip Fulmer’s tortilla shower on Monday evening!  [Jan. 4, 1998].

Although the corny side of Fiesta activities was courtesy of Illinois farmers, local agriculturists have played a major role in this year’s championship season as well.

Seeing the need for a stable, reliable supply of farm inputs, a team of Tennessee farm leaders had the foresight to form an organized system of stores over 50 years ago.  Now known as Tennessee Farmers Co-op, this agribusiness shifted its marketing scheme a couple of years ago, just as the Tennessee secondary adjusted to contain FSU’s Warrick, their lightning quick receiver.

Since Tennessee’s farming community now includes a large amount of part-time farmers and rural homeowners, the Co-op system saw the need for reaching a broad-based audience with ever-changing product lines.  And what better way to reach millions than through the Vol Network?!?!

Yes, for the past several years, your farm neighbors have helped bring you the familiar resonations of “It’s Football Time in Tennessee!”  Through TFC’s sponsorship of our beloved John Ward and Bill Anderson, football fanatics everywhere have benefitted from the dollars of farmers which brought every moment of the championship march to the radios of all true UT supporters!

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The Tennessee Beef Industry Council, a non-profit organization which educates the public about beef’s benefits in a healthy diet, is responsible for the “Beef, It’s What You Want!” commercials on the Vol Network.  These advertisements are funded through beef check-off funds, collected every time a farmer sells cattle in the state of Tennessee.

[[[ Note: In 2017, The Tennessee Beef Industry Council celebrated its 30th Anniversary as a Vol Network Sponsor, and they celebrate Beef Day every season  at Neyland stadium ]]]

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And who’s to say how beef’s protein contributed to the muscle power of linemen as they protected Tee Martin and sacked opposing quarterbacks?  Would there have been a National Championship without steaks and burgers?

As a farmer’s daughter, I first became a UT fan while riding with my dad in a combine.  John Ward and Bill Anderson kept me posted on the exploits of Dewey Warren and Curt Watson.

As a student at the University of Tennessee, I sat for many long hours in the stadium with John Majors at the helm.  I swung in the Upper Deck to the stadium-wide strains of “Hey Jude” as the Orange finally defeated the “the Bear.”  [Alabama Coach Bear Bryant]

John and Bill have been my connection to Neyland in the past few years as cows had to be milked at gametime, or harvest and crops or cattle had to be tended.

UT Football is almost as much as part of my heritage as agriculture, and my memories of each overlap and become intermingled until the turf of the stadium ripples back into the pasture grasses from which it evolved.

And on a cold January night when ice had to be broken on ponds so cattle could drink, the UT Volunteers were destined to bread through the ice and drink of the joys of a National Championship!

Farming was there – and farming will be there until the next time we hear again “It’s Football Time in Tennessee!”

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Another Ag / John Ward / Vol Network tie – not a part of the original column:  Dairy Farms in Tennessee were an early sponsor of the Vol Network, through an in-state dairy checkoff program.  John Ward was in his early days as a broadcaster, and was helping to figure out a way to help introduce Coach Doug Dickey in his first season as head coach.  Ward sold ads to the Tennessee “Milk People,”  A slogan “For the Lip that Lasts, Drink Milk!”   In Mr. Ward’s Tribute in June of 2018,  Coach Dickey spoke fondly about this relationship during the Celebration of Life.  A video of Dickey’s tribute is here.

And John Ward even did some ads for Milk himself.

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PS – Where has this column been hiding for 20 years?  Kind of ‘old-school filing’  (yet very effective!) with file pocket folders and Rubbermaid tubs!

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Here’s to hoping we’ll hear those Magic Words again in the near future!  Since Coach Jeremy Pruitt has said his favorite food is ‘corn’bread, maybe that’s an omen?!?!

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