A student surveys cows in the Teaching Dairy Barn.

Chobani Foundation, Cornell team to support N.Y. dairy students

Approximately 750 cows are in barns on the Cornell campus, including at the Teaching Dairy Barn.

New York state students interested in dairy farming careers will get a boost thanks to a new scholarship program from the Chobani Foundation and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

The Chobani Scholars program, announced June 5, will support eight New York students with a family connection to dairy farming and who plan to pursue careers in the industry. The Chobani Foundation, headquartered in Norwich, New York, is committing $160,000 to CALS to encourage the next generation of American dairy farmers.

Cornell students in the Department of Animal Science with a concentration in dairy management will be eligible for eight scholarships of $20,000 each. Preference will be given to students from counties near Chobani’s upstate New York home: Chenango, Delaware, Madison and Otsego. The first cohort will be awarded scholarships by fall 2019. Chobani Scholars will also have the opportunity to intern with the company during their college career.

“Here at Cornell CALS, we prepare our students to be next-generation dairy leaders in New York,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “The Chobani Scholars program will empower young people from local farm families to access a world-class education. Chobani is a critical part of the New York State dairy economy, and we look forward to building on this strong partnership to bring continued success to our students and the industry.”

The program aims to provide need-based scholarships to students at leading collegiate dairy science programs, according to the foundation.

“As an independent food company with deep ties to our dairy communities, it’s important to us all that we do everything we can to support the next generation of dairy farmers,” said Michael Gonda, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Chobani. “The Chobani Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the communities we call home, which makes this investment in the future of farmers so important. We can’t wait to meet the Chobani Scholars and welcome them into our family.”

New York state is ranked third nationally in milk production, and first in the production of yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese. Dairy manufacturing accounts for more than 21 percent of all agricultural manufacturing sales and 12 percent of employment in New York state.

“The Chobani Scholars program is an extraordinary opportunity for our young people who are interested in pursuing a career in New York’s dairy industry,” said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “Dairy is the state’s second-largest agricultural sector, critical to our economy and the health and well-being of our communities, and it’s so important that we support the families who have led the way and those who will follow. I’m so pleased to see these two incredible contributors to New York agriculture, Chobani and Cornell University, team up to create a program that will help educate and inspire our future ag leaders.”

Cornell is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world for plant and animal science. The Department of Animal Science is home to more than 400 undergraduate students and offers instruction in animal biology and health, management and welfare. The dairy management concentration teaches cutting-edge techniques in management, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, applied economics, quantitative decision making, entrepreneurship and more.

"This gift from the Chobani Foundation is extraordinary in both its timing and potential impact on the development of students and future leaders in our New York dairy industry,” said Mike Van Amburgh, professor in the Department of Animal Science. “We are incredibly grateful to the Chobani Foundation for this level of support of our students, program and industry.”

Upperclassmen at Cornell interested in dairy careers have access to the Cornell Dairy Fellows program, a nationally recognized educational and experiential program dedicated to preparing students for the dairy industry of the future on a global scale. A partnership between dairy producers, agribusiness and Cornell, the program trains students on the latest trends and innovations in the industry and prepares them be modern agricultural leaders.

Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Lindsey Knewstub