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Students Compete in North American Dairy Challenge

Thursday, Apr. 10, 2014

USU students at National American Dairy Challenge

USU students participated in the National American Dairy Challenge in April. (Back row from left to right): Dallin Butter, Kolby Talbot, lecturer Justin Jenson. (Front row left to right) Nick Cox, Lindsay Simmons.

Students in Utah State University’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences recently returned from Fort Wayne, Ind., where they participated and placed third in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge.

Students Dallin Buttars, Lindsay Simmons, Kolby Talbot and Nick Cox represented USU in the competition and placed third among a division of eight intercollegiate teams.

“The dairy challenge contest is a great opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they learn in their college classes,” Buttars said. “I had a wonderful time being able to look through a farm and find ways to help it be more profitable.”

During the competition held April 3-5, students were divided into groups of four and received production and farm management data. They then evaluated the operation and developed a comprehensive program that included recommendations in areas such as nutrition, reproduction, financial management, milking procedures, animal housing and health.

“This challenge incorporates all facets of a working dairy business in a forum that’s interactive, educational and fun,” according to the challenge website.

In the second day of the competition, teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges. Each presentation was followed by a series of questions.

In conjunction with the competition, there was also a North American Dairy Challenge Academy. This event was a non-competitive, educational function. It provided students with similar experiences and situations as the challenge, but instead of competing, participants worked through the same process alongside professionals. Through the academy, students were exposed to the dairy industry and had an opportunity to network and build relationships with professionals that could potentially lead to internships.

USU students Tyson Grisenti, Kelli Hipwell, Trevor Redden and Jonathan Wisniewski participated in the academy.

“One of the most valuable things that I have learned is there is no right or wrong answer to most of the challenges the dairy industry faces,” said Hipwell. “Multiple things could be done for the same situation.”

The experiences of both the challenge and the academy acted as a capstone experience for upper level students said CAAS lecturer and faculty advisor Justin Jenson.

“I help by facilitating and reminding the students of what they learned in all of their classes in the university,” Jenson said. “Even as far reaching as math and biology, that aren’t as directly related, but the concepts and principles apply.”

Jenson noted that the eight USU students prepared for the event since the beginning of spring semester in January. As a part of the preparation, many students also participated in a precursor event, the Western Regional Dairy Challenge, in Tulare, Calif., in March where Cox and Talbot’s teams were among the top ranking participants.

Related links:

Contact: Justin Jenson, 435-245-6067,

Writer: Writer: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, 435-797-7406,

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