ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell PRO-DAIRY recently hosted Dairy Discovery, an interactive day of workshops for high school students interested in exploring careers in the dairy industry. After two years of online-only events, students were able to attend in-person workshops held at Frank Morrison Hall that exposed them to topics in dairy cattle nutrition, biology, and management. Here, Abby Christman, Extension Coordinator for PRO-DAIRY and Deborah Grusenmeyer, Senior Extension Associate for PRO-DAIRY, reflect on this year’s successes.
What is the goal of Dairy Discovery Day?
The overarching goal of the event is to expose New York state high school students with an established or developing interest in agriculture to careers paths in the dairy industry. We cover topics such as dairy cattle nutrition and reproductive technology to demonstrate the breadth of career options available as the students prepare to enter college. Many students use Dairy Discovery as a jumping off point to get involved in other related activities like 4-H or the Junior Dairy Leaders program offered through PRO-DAIRY. Continued programming encourages students to stay connected with the community they build through Dairy Discovery.
How many students participated in this year’s event?
We had about 60 students participate which was fantastic to see, especially having been virtual for so long! Overall, we had about 100 people in attendance, including 4-H and FFA leaders, and high school agriculture teachers that were joining their students to learn from the workshops we had to offer.
What kind of workshops did students participate in during this year’s Dairy Discovery?
This year, students were able to participate in six workshops offered throughout the day exploring topics such as mastitis, calf health, herd health and reproduction, udder health, and cattle nutrition. Students also got to stick their hands in a fistulated cow’s rumen! The workshops were led by Cornell faculty in the Animal Science department, students in the College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as extension specialists in PRO-DAIRY, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Quality Milk Production Services (QMPS).
What opportunities are offered beyond Dairy Discovery?
We organize numerous dairy youth extension programs beyond Dairy Discovery and oversee the 4-H state level dairy programs like Dairy Quiz Bowl and Dairy Challenge. Most students that get involved in these state-wide dairy programs have attended Dairy Discovery at some point.
Through PRO-DAIRY, students can get involved in the Beginning DAIRY LEADER and Junior DAIRY LEADER programs. Most students participate in these yearlong programs to learn about agriculture and higher education opportunities related to dairy and the agriculture industry as a whole. Our Junior DAIRY LEADERs have the opportunity to go to Madison, Wisconsin to attend the National 4-H Conference and World Dairy Expo. Students meet monthly and visit various agricultural operations to expose them to careers in the industry.
What’s the most rewarding part of Dairy Discovery for you?
It always makes us happy to see returning students discover new things about the dairy industry that excites them! It’s amazing to see the growth students make through our programs. Many decide to pursue their undergraduate degree at Cornell, making those connections we develop with our students even more long-lasting.
Catherine Andreadis ’22 is a student writer for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.
Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science