Five Penn State Students Compete at Northeast Dairy Challenge

Posted: November 17, 2016

Joining teams from eleven northeastern U.S. colleges and two Canadian universities, five Penn State animal science majors competed at SUNY Cobleskill.
Students attending the 2016 Northeast Dairy Challenge held in Glens Falls, NY, November 3-5, 2016.

Students attending the 2016 Northeast Dairy Challenge held in Glens Falls, NY, November 3-5, 2016.

Five students representing Penn State's Department of Animal Science participated in the 14th Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge, hosted this year by SUNY Cobleskill at Glens Falls, NY on Nov. 3-5.

One hundred and twenty students from eleven northeast colleges and two Canadian universities participated in this innovative, three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for careers in the dairy industry.

Students worked in mixed-university teams of four or five students as they assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. In a collaborative effort, each team developed a 20 minute presentation detailing their observations and recommendations which they then presented to a panel of professional judges as well as the farm family, sponsors and coaches. Teams were ranked based on how well their evaluations matched the judges' assessment of the dairy operation.

The five Penn State students were: Chase Cashell, Chambersburg PA; Reuben Hicks, DuBois PA; Matthew Leise, Greenville PA, Toni Smith, Reynoldsville PA; and Alton Rudgers, Attica, NY. Cashell was on a second place team that evaluated Ideal Dairy in Hudson Falls, NY. Other students were recognized for their participation.

Other farms that were evaluated were Toolite Dairy, Granville, NY and Welcome Stock Farm, LP, Schuylerville, NY.

Penn State students were coached by Lisa Holden, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Dairy Science and Virginia Ishler, Extension Specialist of Dairy Science.

Kings-Ransom Farm, LLC, Schuylerville, NY, hosted Saturday farm visits with stations by sponsors. Friday night activities included sports games at the Adirondack Sports complex in Queensbury, NY. Team-building and fun activities were held throughout the weekend to encourage networking among students and dairy industry sponsors, creating the opportunity to learn about potential career opportunities.

Travel funding came from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania Dairyman's Association and an endowment established by alumnus Clif Marshall to facilitate travel by teams from the Department.

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 15-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals.

The 2017 national competition and Dairy Challenge Academy will be March 30-April 1 in Visalia, CA. Four regional contests are held in late fall and winter; details are at