Creating the next generation of dairy farmers and leaders

CHAZY Its 4:30 a.m. and class is in session. For Gerrit Gosliga of Addison, Vt., this means its time to feed the calves. Thats because Gerrit is a student in the advanced dairy management program at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute. On this snowy morning, frigid temperatures dont keep his classmates in bed either. Coral Kent-Dennis of Marlboro, Vt., can be found checking heifers to see if theyre ready to breed. Brian Trudell of East Fairfield, Vt., is already in the parlor, getting the cows ready for milking. The ADM program was first established at the Miner Institute in 2000 as a cooperative effort between the University of Vermont, Vermont Technical College and the institute. UVM has a strong animal science program; however, did not have a place for dairy management students to get hands-on experience. The Miner Institute, on the other hand, had recently ended a cell biology program with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, so they had room for a new program. They also had the expertise and state-of-the-art research facilities to host the dairy program. As part of the semester-long residential program, students take 15 units of classes ranging from dairy nutrition and field crops, to dairy management and ag seminar. Students are also required to complete a research project and work alongside the regular institute employees. For the eight students enrolled this semester, the program is one of the highlights of their educational careers. Many chose UVM or VTC over universities with a stronger dairy emphasis precisely because of the ADM program. In addition to the hands-on experiences they crave, they also get to travel to industry conferences throughout the nation, including the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif. We want them to see other things, said Wanda Emerich, dairy outreach coordinator for the Miner Institute. As the self-professed mother hen, it is her job to make sure students are ready for each day properly dressed, at the right place at the right time, and with something productive to do. We really enjoy the students its a fun time of year for us, she said. We enjoy watching them grow into the industry. And grow into the industry they do. More than 85 percent of past graduates are currently working as anything from dairy farmers to feed company representatives. Past grads are making a difference Brett Denny became assistant manager of the Vermont Dairy Herd Management Association, while Renee Nadeau managed a National Grand Champion at the 2007 World Dairy Expo.

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