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Penn State Students Perform Well at Northeast Dairy Challenge

Posted: November 19, 2014

Penn State students on first place teams were Brandon Grumbine, Bethel, PA and Gearet FitzPatrick, Kensington, MD.
Brandon Grumbine, Bethel, standing, middle, was on the first place team that evaluated Hess Dairy Farm, Mount Joy.

Brandon Grumbine, Bethel, standing, middle, was on the first place team that evaluated Hess Dairy Farm, Mount Joy.

Amid a chilly November breeze, 116 students from 14 universities across the Northeast and Canada gathered together in the Harrisburg area for the 12th annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge hosted by Delaware Valley College.

The three day event, held November 13-15, allowed students to work in teams of four or five with teammates being students from various universities attending the event. Along with meeting their new team members, students received information about their host farms on Thursday evening, and then boarded buses early Friday morning to complete their whole farm evaluations. 

Within a farm grouping, teams were awarded first or second place standing based on their evaluations and presentations to a panel of judges. Penn State students on first place teams were Brandon Grumbine, Bethel, PA and Gearet FitzPatrick, Kensington, MD.  Penn State Students on second place teams included: Chad Horst, Newmanstown, PA; Lindsay Royer, Elizabethtown, PA; and Ricky Trout, Collegeville, PA. Other Penn State students participating in the event were Kasey Baker, Osceola, PA; Ashley Blair, Sugar Grove, PA; Travis Byers, Shippensburg; PA; Isaac Haagen, Howard, PA; Amy Kraus, Aliquippa, PA; Greyson Smith, Palmyra, PA; Evan Snyder, Elizabethtown, PA; Max Wolf, Lebanon, CT.

Students were coached by Lisa Holden, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Dairy and Animal Science, Gabriella Varga, Ph.D., emeritus University Distinguished Professor of Animal Science and Virginia Ishler, Extension Associate in Feed and Business Management.

This year's host farms were: Furnace Hill Holsteins, Lebanon, PA; Brook-Corner Holsteins, Lebanon, PA; and Hess Farm, Mount Joy, PA. Host farms opened their barns, farms and books to the Dairy Challenge students. Teams were asked to prepare a presentation for Saturday that included strengths, weaknesses and key recommendations or opportunities for successes across all areas of the farm including: nutrition, facilities, reproduction, animal health, crop and feed management and financial management. All teams gave their 20 minute presentation to a panel of judges. 

All students had the opportunity to participate in educational workshops at Brubaker Dairy Farm in Mount Joy, PA as well as attend an industry career fair. Team-building and fun activities were held throughout the weekend to encourage networking among students and sponsors.

Attendees contributed substantial donations to the Central PA Food Bank during a lively game session Friday evening, designed to challenge the students and raise donations of both non-perishable food products as well as monetary donations.  In this holiday season and with needs increasing, food bank representatives expressed their sincere appreciation to the group for their generosity. 

The regional event is part of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) which was established as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. It strives to incorporate a higher-learning atmosphere with practical application to help prepare students for careers in the dairy industry. The mission of NAIDC is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhances the development of the dairy industry and its leaders. 

Next year's Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge will be held in State College, PA, hosted by Penn State University. For more information about next year's contest, please contact Lisa Holden of Penn State at lah7@psu.edu or industry chairs Suzy Demeester at Suzanne.Demeester@novusint.com or Mark McCullouch at  mark.mccullouch@merck.com. To become a sponsor, contact Jan Bitter of Farm Credit East at 800-392-3276 or jan.bitter@farmcrediteast.com. Connect to Dairy Challenge on Facebook or find more information on the website at:  www.dairychallenge.org.