HARRISBURG, Pa. — A group of 28 young dairy professionals recently received scholarships to attend the 2023 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit on February 8-9 in State College, Pa. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, the Center for Dairy Excellence, and the Dairy Excellence Foundation awarded the Young Dairy Professionals Scholarships to individuals between the ages of 18-25 who are either college students or individuals working on dairy farms in Pennsylvania. The scholarships support young professionals who are passionate about the future of dairy and motivated to grow their skills through networking and professional development.
“I wanted to come here to learn, and I thought I could take full advantage of the networking opportunities to meet different professionals across the dairy industry,” said Abby Stoltzfus, a student at Penn State University who received the scholarship and attended the Summit.
Individuals who received the Young Dairy Professionals Scholarship and attended the Summit include Ryan Allen, Caroline Arrowsmith, Emory Bewley, Lynneah Brady, Joanna Brown, Rachel Champluvier, Andrew Connon, Mikayla DeReinzi, Madeline Fairfield, Timothy Finnegan, Cameron Goodyear, Hannah Hoover, Isabella Johnson, Sierra Kapusta, Roxanne Kingsley, Aaron Lieboff, Julia Lorenz, Colton Lusk, Gwenyth Marcy, Dr. Joanne Powell, Kayla Rhinesmith, Adria Russell, Abby Stoltzfus, Katelyn Taylor, Rebecca VanBlargan, Blaine Walizer, Haley Weidman and Kirsten Zimmerman.
The scholarship winners attended the two-day Dairy Summit as well as a Young Dairy Professionals Reception. During the reception, they rotated through different career areas where they could network with dairy professionals who work in those fields – from herd management, nutrition and veterinary medicine to marketing, business and more.
The reception also featured three panelists who shared advice and insight about their careers in the dairy industry. Each panelist completed the On-Farm Internship Program during their college years and reflected on how their internship experiences prepared them for full-time careers serving the dairy industry.
Shara Allman, the herdsman for S&A Kreider and Sons dairy farm in Lancaster, Pa., described how she manages the health and reproduction of the dairy herd and what her future career might look like.
“I’m most excited about the fact that, despite how I never thought I would settle in Lancaster County, I can now see myself staying here for possibly my whole career. I work with such a great family,” Shara said during the panel discussion. “I’m in between the generations who are managing it now and the generations who are coming up. With the plans and ideas they all have, it’s really cool to see where the farm could go and the things I could get to do.”
Beckie Burns, Dairy Nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition, shared how she works with dairy producers to improve cow comfort, health, and efficiency. She reflected on how the On-Farm Internship Program prepared her to work directly with dairy producers in all types of production.
“The On-Farm Internship Program is a really great opportunity, especially for people who haven’t worked on a farm before. I’m not working as a herdsman now, but I have such a greater respect and understanding of what dairy farmers do. That helps me every day,” she added during the discussion.
Aaron Harbach, of Schrack Farms in Loganton, Pa, discussed how he recently moved home to work alongside his family at Schrack Farms and learn from the older generations. After graduating college, he spent several years working as the herd manager at the Georgia dairy farm who hosted his on-farm internship. Aaron spoke optimistically about the opportunities available to Pennsylvania dairy producers.
“I’m most excited for the opportunities we have as an industry moving forward. I know every time we talk to a farmer about how everything’s going in the industry, it’s not always positive. I think we should try to find a lot more of what’s good,” Aaron shared. “As long as government and co-ops allow us to keep growing in Pennsylvania, I think we have a lot of opportunities.”
Young dairy professionals who are interested in receiving a scholarship for the 2024 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit should look for applications to be released in November 2023. Individuals who are attending college or working on dairy farms between the ages of 18-25 are eligible to apply. The 2024 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit will take place on February 7-8, 2024 at the Lancaster Wyndham Resort in Lancaster, Pa.
Visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/summit-scholarship to learn more or contact Michelle Shearer at 717-346-0849 or by email at email@example.com.
–Emily Barge, Center for Dairy Excellence