In their first appearance, SUNY Cobleskill placed third at the 14th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC), an event that took place from April 9 to 11 in Liverpool, New York. SUNY Cobleskill students Jared Kent, Marissa Larson, Brittany Perry and Justin Hanehan competed against seven other teams, evaluating dairy farms to assist farmers in managing their homesteads with optimized success and animal care. Coaching the team was Kimberly Tarvis, Assistant Professor of Animal and Plant Science at SUNY Cobleskill. This is the second time a coached contest team from SUNY Cobleskill has been sent to Nationals – the first time being in 2009.

274 students from 38 colleges across the United States and Canada attended this educational event. Collegiate participants were instructed to visit six dairy farms throughout New York State. Upon receiving information from an area dairy, including production and farm management data, each team interviewed herd owners and conducted an in-person inspection of the farm. Implementing their research, each team developed a farm analysis containing recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management. The event culminated with team members presenting recommendations and then fielding questions from a panel of judges.

“To say I am extremely proud would be an understatement. Watching these students grow as they prepared for the event and witnessing them blossom when they competed has been an honor. I can only hope that next year’s team will be as dedicated as the four individuals I had the pleasure of coaching this year,” said Kimberly Tarvis.

Developed in 2013, the Dairy Challenge Academy was established to expand this event to more students. SUNY Cobleskill students Michael Amato, Dylan Powell, Cierra Thomsen, Laura Wilbur, Elizabeth Frazier, Catherine Hayes, Daniel Fields, Rachelle Van Looy, Kendal Sprague, Marcia Lee Renaud and Lauren Nelson analyzed and developed recommendations for operating dairy farms within a mixed-university team. This marked the first time SUNY Cobleskill has sent students to the Dairy Challenge Academy.

“I am so grateful that each student on the NAIDC Academy team took the time to participate in this event. I feel that every member grew in potential, as a person, student and eventual dairy industry professional. I am extremely proud of them and their incredible performance in Syracuse. Every student from SUNY Cobleskill who participated this year represented SUNY Cobleskill with integrity, perseverance, and a willingness to learn that has made our campus proud.”