When Oregon State University cut the budgets for livestock judging teams this year, the OSU Dairy Club
decided to raise some concern – and some money.
"We responded quickly with a Dairy Advocacy Fund," explains Dairy Club President Jessica Budge, a junior highly involved in the judging programs.
"The endowment is already at nearly $13,000 and growing."
The first donations from industry came in right after a March event known as the bi-annual Beaver Classic Sale, with proceeds diverted to the fund. "Usually, the money raised by at the sale goes to the operating expenses of the dairy club for two years," she says. "This year we are trying to raise enough money to fund the club and get this endowment fund kicked off in a big way."
When OSU cut the judging fund, along with closure of its Dairy facility and other merging of other animal units, students and industry didn't take the loss lightly, she says.
"More than 300 people showed up at the sale to provide support," she says. "Industry responded in a big way" because a lot of people working out there today remember their days as livestock judging contestants at the university."
The crowd of 300 was about double the normal attendance at the sale, she estimates.
"We had a big surge of participation from the breed associations," Budge says. "Lots of people want to see the judging program survive at OSU."
Anxiety among judging teams became pronounced, she recalls, when the first rumors of the budget cuts surfaced last fall. Judging is "one of our primary extracurricular activities for students," she says, "and one that should not be discontinued."
The dairy judging team has always been an earmark of OSU livestock events, with participants traveling to many national contests to win awards.
The fund the club created to support judging and other dairy activities is supported by the American Dairy Science Association, she reports, which is assisting club members in soliciting donations.
"The endowment is not just for us," says Hayden Bush, student chairman of this year's sale. "It is going to be used for student activities in many years to come."
This year's Beaver Classic featured consignment of more than 40 high quality dairy heifers and embryo packages.
The sale is a "long lived tradition of the OSU Dairy Club," he notes "This year, it had an even greater meaning to the industry."
The sale featured a silent auction as what Bush calls "the culmination of over a year of hard work from the club, and knowing that it benefitted not only us but youth for many years to come is humbling."
It is all "very sad," says Budge. "Judging is such a big part of those interested in dairy at OSU, and to have it end just is not acceptable.
If you would like to make a donation to the Dairy Advocacy Fund, go to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Budge at (971) 832-2096.