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Utah State University Students Take the Dairy Challenge

Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

USU Ag students and adviser at Western Dairy Challenge

Attending the Western Dairy Challenge are team members (back row) Tyson Grisenti, Braden Tye, Jonathan Wisniewski, Trevor Redden, (middle row) Kolby Talbot, Andy Chaparro, Nick Cox, (front row) Kelly Hipwell, and lecturer Justin Jenson.

Eight Utah State University students have returned from Tulare, Calif., where they participated in the 9th annual Western Regional Dairy Challenge Feb. 27- March 1.

Traveling to the event were Kolby Talbot, Braden Tye, Nickolas Cox, Jonathon Wisniewski, Kelly Hipwell, Rigo Andre Chaparro, Tyson Grisenti and Trevor Redden. The USU student team was coached by Justin Jenson, a lecturer in USU’s Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

The Western Regional Dairy Challenge is an innovative, three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for dairy careers.

“It provides a good venue for major players in the dairy industry to meet the brightest minds in agriculture and science,” Jenson said.

Working in mixed-university teams of five or six students, participants assess aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges. Teams were ranked based on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ evaluations of the dairy operation.

Three teams were ranked as Platinum and three as Gold level teams. USU’s Grisenti was on a Platinum ranked team and Talbot was on a Gold level team.

Students also participated in team building workshops led by Louann Waldner, dean at the College of the Sequoias, learning more about the students in their group, how to work with them, and what factors play into group dynamics. Noel Rosa, Rosa Brothers Milk Company, Tulare, also spoke to the group about his family’s business, entrepreneurship and dairy industry careers.

Trevor Redden, a senior studying animal, dairy and veterinary sciences, is working toward becoming a veterinarian and said that competition was a good opportunity to learn about one facet of agriculture he didn’t know much about.

“I wanted to see if I would like to be more involved in dairy,” he said. “I learned that running a business is much more than taking care of cows or selling milk, and I met a lot of college kids who have the same interests as me but with different perspectives.”

A tour of a working farm was offered where the owners, Jeff and Lisa Wilbur, participated in a question and answer session with students.

A number of networking opportunities were also available.

Talbot and Cox will travel to the North American Dairy Challenge April 3-5, in Fort Wayne, Ind., with two other teammates who participated in WRDC last year to represent the Utah State University in a similar contest format. This challenge also hosts an educational component called the North American Dairy Challenge Academy where, instead of competing, students can meet with professionals and learn more about the industry. Cox, Talbot, Wisniewski, Hipwell, Grisenti and Redden were chosen to attend. 

Related links:

Contact:  Justin Jenson, 435-245-6067,

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