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Cornell dairy team wins international honors

From left, Betsey Howland, Colleen Smith ’16, Josh Landis ’16, Kelsey Neckers ’16, Greg Van Ravenswaay ’16 and Mike Van Amburgh took first place in the 2016 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge.

A team of Cornell animal science students can add a new line to their resumes: continental champions.

Seniors Josh Landis, Kelsey Neckers, Greg Van Ravenswaay and Colleen Smith earned first-place honors in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, held April 7-9 in Syracuse, New York. The event challenged 39 colleges in the U.S. and Canada to apply theory and learning on a real-world dairy farm.

Animal science professor Mike Van Amburgh and extension support specialist Betsey Howland coached this year’s team, whose members were selected by seniors in the Cornell Dairy Fellows Program.

“This team represents our entire Dairy Fellows Program, and their success is really a testament to the way the program prepares students to engage in the technologically advanced and complex modern agricultural industry,” Van Amburgh said.

For this year’s competition, teams evaluated one of four central New York farms, including a financial and operations analysis. Cornell competed against seven other teams on their particular farm.

Industry experts judged each team’s recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort and financial management.

Smith, president of the Cornell University Dairy Science Club, said, “Winning Dairy Challenge has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I can honestly say that this has been one of the greatest learning experiences that I’ve had at Cornell.”

Matt Hayes