Regional Dairy Challenge 2020 Contest Results and Updates

The Western and Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge® events have concluded. Information regarding each of the individual contests are listed below and was been received via press release from Dairy Challenge. Participants who are USJersey members are signified by being presented in an italic green text.

A committee of dairy industry representatives organized the Dairy Challenges, led by local host volunteers. In addition, a long list of volunteers was important to the competitions success, as is the case for every Dairy Challenge event. To volunteer or become a sponsor for the 2021 contest, contact Molly Kelley at or go to for more information. All contributions are tax deductible and contributing sponsor listings are available on the website.

National Contest Cancelled due to COVID-19

It is with great disappointment that we also share that North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge slated for March 26 to 28, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis., has been cancelled. The safety of the students and volunteers planning to participate is of utmost importance to our organization, and this difficult decision was made in recognition of the declared global pandemic surrounding the COVID-19 viral disease and out of resposect for the advisory surrounding large group gatherings by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Further updates on sponsorship, entry fees and other details will be provided on the website as they become available.


Collegiate students participate in 15th annual Western Regional Dairy Challenge®

66 students from eight Western U.S. universities and one Canadian college traveled to Modesto, California, for the 15th annual Western Dairy Challenge on February 20 – 22, 2020. The contest was hosted by Modesto Junior College.

The Western Regional Dairy Challenge is a three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for dairy careers. Working in mixed-university teams of four or five students, participants assessed all 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.

On Thursday students learned about the structure of function of Hilmar Cheese at the Hilmar Cheese Visitor Center.  Next, students participated in a team building event, where they met their teammates from other universities and competed in these teams to make cheese.  As part of the team building exercise, they competed to determine which team had the highest yielding cheese production. They also kicked off the competition portion of the and spent the evening diving into the host dairy’s records to assess the strengths and weaknesses that show up in the numbers.

On Friday morning, the teams headed out to the local host dairy that graciously opened their doors to the students.  They spent 3 1/2 hours walking the facility, observing the cows and the management aspects of the operation. Following the on-farm assessment, the students participated in a question and answer session with the owner of the dairy. Sponsors and volunteers attending the event networked with and mentored the students throughout the weekend.

On Saturday morning, students presented their findings to a panel of judges made up of a nutritionist, a veterinarian, a financial analyst and a dairy producer who ranked them on their presentation and conclusions. Students also had the opportunity to hear the judging panel’s full critique of the dairy’s opportunities to round out this learning experience.

First Place Teams

Team 6 – Strawberry
Rebecca Hedges (University of Alberta), Lars Schilderink (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Katelin Baker (Washington State University), Anthony Buzzetti (University of Idaho), Madison Zamaroni (University of California, Davis)

Team 7 – Olive
Alex Kelly (University of Idaho), Logan Real (California State University – Fresno), Kristofer Yelderman (Utah State University), Kolin Stock (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Karen Visscher (University of Alberta)

Team 8 – Orange
Summer Call (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Mariah Richards (Utah State University), Shai Searcy (Texas A&M University), Nathan Tollenaar (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Magnus Yoshimura (Washington State University)

Second Place Teams

Team 2 – Almond
Michael Campbell (Utah State University), Gerrit de Jong (Cal Poly State University), Courtnee Hainstock (University of Alberta), Regan Highsmith (Washington State University, Calissa Lubben (South Dakota State University), Mykaela Owens (University of Idaho)

Team 4 – Carrot
Jordan Bairos (California State University – Fresno), Kailey Foster (Utah State University), Trevor Maciel (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Logan Papinchak (Texas A&M University), Joseph Terry (University of California, Davis)

Team 12 – Lemon
Natalie Koke (Texas A&M University), Kylee Elmore (University of Idaho), Nicolaus Machado (California State University – Fresno), Danica Valencia (Cal Poly State University – SLO), Jenna Van Wyk (South Dakota State University)


Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge® Event Concludes with Three First Place Teams

The 2020 Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge concluded February 14th in River Falls. The event proved to once again be great success with 113 students from 18 schools, coaches and volunteers gathering on Wednesday, February 12th in frigid River Falls, Wisconsin. Starting on the first day, students were given the opportunity to attend breakouts on farm financials, DairyComp 305, PC Dart and received general farm visit information to be utilized in the presentation they would be building over the next few days. The students were able to meet up with their teammates and mentors and bond over dinner and Kahoot. The night concluded with teams reviewing data packets on their farm and planning for their visit the following day.

The students traveled to one of three farms on the second day to audit the operation. The second day began with students boarding buses as early as 7:00 to head off to their respective farms. This year’s farms included Luckwaldt Agriculture, Inc of Woodville, Jon-De Farm of Baldwin, and Jil-Ro-Sie Holsteins of Ellsworth. Students were given the chance to walk through the farm with an industry mentor and evaluate the different parts of each operation including calf care, parlor management, lactating and transition pens, feed management etc… Students were also given the opportunity to ask the producers questions about their farms to gain more information on the overall farm operation. In the afternoon students took their gathered information and began to build their farm presentations up until dinner. That evenings’ dinner included a welcome from Provost and the Chair of UW-River Falls Department of Animal and Food Science. Following dinner, participants were invited to a game night with event sponsors.

On the final day, panels of judges listed and evaluated teams of students on the 20-minute presentations. The students covered strengths and areas of opportunity for their respective farm with farm owners present. While results were being calculated, students had the opportunity to network with companies at an innovation fair. Then the three-day event concluded with an award ceremony.

The judges awarded the following teams with the first and second place ranking on each farm among the 24 total teams participating.

Farm 1, Luckwaldt Agriculture, Inc.

First Place:  Team 3, Courtney Ewert – University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Marina Hoeve – Lakeshore Technical College, Michael Moede – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brittany Neisius – Chippewa Valley Technical College, William Vander Woude – Dordt University
Second Place: Team 4, Kalli Mosher – Dordt University, Zachary Servais – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kendra Spier – Iowa State University, Nikki Statz – Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Farm 2, Jon-De Farm
First Place: Team 11, Miriah Dershem – Michigan State University, Judd Saemrow – Northeast Iowa Community College, Sierra Swanson – University of Minnesota, Kate Watkins – Purdue University
Second Place: Team 15, Emily Annexstad – University of Minnesota, Bailey Larson – University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Alexis Lins – Fox Valley Technical College, Suzie McKraig – Purdue University, Maxwell Udelhoven – Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Farm 3, Jil-Ro-Sie Holsteins
First Place: Team 19, Katie Buatois – Purdue University, Reece Burnett – Kansas State University, Ava Gard – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Amanda Vance – College of Ozarks
Second Place: Team 17, Elizabeth Beckmann – Iowa State University, Beka McDonald – Michigan State University, Austin Raymond – Northeast Iowa Community College, Amanda Schmitmeyer – The Ohio State University, Katherine Wells – University of Wisconsin Madison