The 2012 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge hosted by University of Maine at Waterville had an unexpected conclusion. The three-day educational competition event pitted mixed-university teams of ag college students against each other as a way to sharpen their skills for careers in the dairy industry.
The event occurred just after Hurricane Sandy ripped up the East Coast. The students and supporters raised $1,100 for the Red Cross relief efforts. Cargill Animal Nutrition, a Dairy Challenge sponsor, matched all donations, resulting in a total of $2,200 sent to American Red Cross.
"Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath," explained Barry Putnam, dairy sales leader for Cargill Animal Nutrition and volunteer with Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge. "Since the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge was held just after Hurricane Sandy's destruction of much of the east coast, students and other supporters of Dairy Challenge were eager to help those in need."
The students represented Alfred State College, Cornell University, McGill University, Morrisville State College, Penn State University, SUNY – Cobleskill, University of Guelph, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College.
The teams competed on actual farms – Stonyvale Farm, The Wright Place and Pepper Hill Farm. They also had educational workshops at Flood Brothers dairy farm.
The Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge is under the guidance and support of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC), established in 2002 as a management contest to incorporate evaluation of all aspects of a specific dairy business. The evaluation process aimed to create real-life situations that stress the importance of teamwork and professionalism, noted Brett Denny, industry chairman from Vermont DHIA.
"Not only does the Dairy Challenge teach technical knowledge, it excels in helping students develop people skills," said Denny. And that was evidenced by their gift to the American Red Cross.