Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences The Ohio State University
The North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) program began in 2002 (https://www.dairychallenge.org/) and the first regional program began in the northeast in 2003. Since that time, Midwest, southern, and western regional dairy challenges have been organized. In addition, Ohio State hosts a local dairy challenge each fall semester to provide training for students in the dairy herd management course and other college students. Students from the Agricultural Technical Institute also have participated for several years, and during the past two years, students from Wilmington College have participated.
Dairy Challenge provides the opportunity for students to experience the process of evaluating management practices on a dairy farm and to interact with representatives in the dairy industry. The program is held in a contest format for undergraduate students whereby they are grouped into teams of three to four individuals. Locally, veterinary and graduate students are invited to attend the farm visit and participate in a meeting later in the evening with the contest judges to discuss observations on the farm. A farm in central Ohio is selected and records from the farm are made available to students. Typically, students are taken to the farm for a visit to interview the owner and to observe the facilities for about two hours. Then the teams of students return to campus to finalize their assessment into a presentation for the following day. The students present their findings to a panel of judges consisting of individuals from the University and from allied industries.
Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge
The 2021 Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge was hosted by Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue universities. We were planning to host the event in Ft. Wayne, IN, but due to the pandemic, the event had to be held virtually. With the virtual nature of the program, the structure was changed whereby it was held February 16 through March 2. Dr. Roger Thomson at Michigan State worked feverishly in gathering records and videos of a herd in MI to use for the program. Given the virtual nature of the program and the difficulty in students working remotely with students from other universities, the teams this year were organized by schools for which they attend. The two following teams from Ohio State participated: Team 4 - Paul Bensman, Deanna Langenkamp, Sarah Lehner, and Robert Vance; Team 11 - Brietta Latham, Amanda Schmitmeyer, Ashley Stroud, and Laura Tavera. Team 4 placed second among the teams in their grouping.
Due to the onset of the COVID-19, the 2020 National NAIDC program scheduled for March 26-28 in Green Bay, WI was cancelled. With the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 National NAIDC program was held virtually during April 14-16 and was hosted by the NAIDC Board with the gracious offerings by a herd in WI. The Ohio State contest team consisted of Paul Bensman, Brietta Latham, Sarah Lehner, and Caleb Rykaczewski. They took first place among the teams in their judging panel. Paul graduated this semester and is seeking employment in the feed industry; Brietta has been accepted into a graduate program at Washington State University; Caleb will be pursuing a MS degree in the OSU Department of Animal Sciences; and Sarah will be a senior during this next academic year with dual majors in Animal Sciences and Agribusiness and Applied Economics. The coaches for the Columbus based campus students are Dr. Maurice Eastridge and Dr. Benjamin Wenner.
Ohio State University Team, 2021 NAIDC Virtual Contest, received a First Place (Left to Right): Paul Bensman, Brietta Latham, Caleb Rykaczewski, and Sarah Lehner.