Welcome to our first issue of the Spartan Dairy Newsletter.
I am proud and excited to share with you the inaugural issue of the Spartan Dairy Newsletter! I hope this platform will provide a means to help you stay in touch with MSU, the people of the Michigan dairy industry, and the latest research relevant to dairy production.
Allow me to take a moment to introduce myself, for those I haven’t had a chance to meet yet. I am a native of Iowa who was raised on a purebred Angus operation and began to develop an interest in dairy during my time as an undergraduate at Iowa State University. I first had the opportunity to explore the great state of Michigan as I completed a PhD in dairy nutrition at MSU under Dr. Mike Allen’s expert supervision in the mid-2000’s. Still relatively new to the dairy industry at the time, I had no idea that I would return to MSU in 2020 in a dairy management position with 50% Extension responsibilities! The 13 years I spent on faculty at Kansas State University gave me time to develop my understanding of this industry and the many hats that dairy managers have to wear. I am extremely honored to take on a leadership role in helping MSU stay connected and relevant to the dairy industry.
My wife and I have settled with our three kids in DeWitt, which we are enjoying despite COVID limitations. Besides the strength of MSU’s dairy programs and the excellent colleagues I get to work with here, the natural beauty of this state was a big draw for us to move back. In our first year here, we’ve gotten the family outfitted with kayaks, cross country skis, and more beach gear than was warranted in Kansas.
One of the key challenges facing Extension programs around the country is to find the niche where we can support agricultural enterprises in a world saturated with information. This is certainly a very different world than the rural America of 1914, when the Smith-Lever act created the Extension system. Still, as I have had the fortune to interact with dairy producers and advisors around the world, the university – industry connections mediated by Extension in the U.S. are the envy of nearly every country I’ve visited. I am convinced that the two-way exchange of information, without the influence of sales goals, remains as valuable today as it has ever been. However, to take full advantage of this model, we need to work toward more integrated, collaborative discovery efforts.
This newsletter is one step that we are taking to try to help cut through the clutter. We want to connect with you however you prefer – print mailings, podcasts, videos, social media – and yes, in person visits. I would love to hear from you about this newsletter and our collective efforts to engage, positive or negative. Let’s find ways to help each other build an even stronger Michigan dairy industry.