MSU students gain real world experience during dairy challenge

Eleven Michigan State University students were among 223 students representing 37 colleges and universities who recently competed in the 12th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC).

Eleven Michigan State University students, four of whom were animal science seniors, were among 223 students representing 37 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada who recently competed in the 12th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) held in April in Fort Wayne, Ind. The 2013 event was hosted by Purdue University, MSU and Ohio State University.

Senior animal science majors representing MSU were Lauren Bush, of Swartz Creek; Jared Lyzenga, Byron Center; Brooke Murphy, Midland; and Cassie Parks, Clinton.  Coach Miriam Weber Nielsen, professor in the Department of Animal Science, traveled with the team to the competition. MSU placed fourth, finishing only eight points out of first place.

The NAIDC is an innovative two-day competition designed by university and industry dairy science experts and geared to students who are pursuing dairy-related programs and careers. Students are challenged to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world situation by analyzing a working dairy operation.

 "Dairy Challenge is an excellent example of how MSU has prepared me as a student and as an individual to deal with difficult problems facing the industry today,” Murphy said. “It was a way to practically apply all that we've learned in a holistic way, which was eye-opening for me as I start looking for jobs and professional career opportunities.”

Parks agreed and said that establishing relationships in the process was important, too.

“Though this experience was a lot of hard work, we did well as a team and became close friends in the process,” she said. “I will always be grateful for this experience, as I gained irreplaceable memories, friends and insights into the dairy industry."

This year’s event also marked the first Dairy Challenge Academy, an extension of the NAIDC developed to expand the educational and networking opportunities for college students. Academy participants analyzed and developed recommendations for operating dairies. Instead of working on teams made up of members all from the same college or university, however, students worked on mixed-university teams, with two advisers assigned to help coach each team.   

Seven MSU students participated in the academy: Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) dairy management program freshmen Jorin Ouwinga, McBain;  Kara Smith, Hudsonville; and Matthew Stanton, Elkton; animal science senior Brian Rett, Concord; animal science sophomores Garrett Slavik, Ashley, and Jennie Lubbers, Lake Odessa; and animal science junior Todd Worden, Whittemore.

The program is financially supported through donations from 130 dairy businesses and producers and coordinated by a volunteer board of directors. Nearly 4,000 university students have participated in the NAIDC since the first two contests were hosted by MSU in 2002 and 2003.

For more information about MSU participation in the MSU Dairy Challenge, the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge or the National Dairy Challenge, contact  Weber Nielsen at 517-432-5443. 

Photo caption: Top row, left to right: Matt Stanton, Jorin Ouwinga, Jared Lyzenga, Dr. Miriam Weber Nielsen, Brooke Murphy, Garrett Slavik, Todd Worden and Brian Rett. Bottom row, left to right: Kara Smith, Lauren Bush, Cassie Parks and Jennie Lubbers. (Photo courtesy of the National Dairy Challenge.)

Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge

Five students representing MSU competed in the eighth annual Midwest Dairy Challenge in Manitowoc, Wis.


The Midwest Dairy Challenge is an innovative competition designed by dairy industry and university professionals for students pursuing dairy-related courses of study at North American universities and colleges. Lakeshore Technical College hosted the February 2014 event, which attracted 80 students from 19 universities and colleges across the Midwest.

The MSU students – all majoring in animal science – were sophomores Joshua Garver, White Pigeon; Samantha Mamarow, Saline and Bethany Oglesby, Elgin, Ill.; junior Kristen Saunders, Lansing; and freshman Brittni Tucker, Elsie.


Team members were selected on the basis of individual performance results at the MSU Dairy Challenge  in December, in which students of any class level or background could participate. At the event, the MSU students were mixed on aggregate teams with students from other two- and four-year institutions from across the Midwest.


Photo caption: Five Michigan State University animal science students participated in the 2013 Midwest Dairy Challenge in Manitowoc, Wis. Clockwise from left to right are Kristen Saunders, Lansing; Brittni Tucker, Elsie; Joshua Garver, White Pigeon; Samantha Mamarow, Saline; and Bethany Oglesby, Elgin, Ill.


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