Experience at Dairy Bar, plant help students learn


Danielle Sons, Lifestyles Reporter

Nestled behind Berg Agricultural Hall and next to Alfred Dairy Science Hall is the Davis Dairy Plant and Dairy Bar, where people tour, study and enjoy some of the many products that are made here on campus.

The South Dakota State University Dairy Bar makes many products like ice cream, cheese, butter and milk for students and community members to buy.

This couldn’t be possible though if there were not dedicated students behind the scenes making sure each dairy product is made into perfection.    

According to the Dairy Bar, they started up in 1910 when it sold its first commercial ice cream. Over the years, it has evolved to the point where students started making their own dairy products.

In 1979, a major ice cream flavor made with Oreos was invented by dairy plant manager Shirley Seas and dairy science students Joe Leedom and Joe Van Treeck. The ice cream became a hit and is today called Cookies n’ Cream, which is one of the most popular flavors sold at the Dairy Bar.

Since then, Dairy Bar workers have repeatedly said they and their colleagues that work there have continued to make ice cream and other dairy products such as cheese, and that once a year butter is made as well.

The dairy plant and Dairy Bar support students both intellectually and financially as well.

Proceeds that come back from selling SDSU ice cream all over South Dakota come back to help students in majors regarding dairy as well.   

One of the more experienced members at the Davis Dairy Plant explained how cheese is made and what kind of fun the students working there can get with the process.

“Besides ice cream we also make cheese. It starts as a white or yellow cheddar and then has flavor added to it. Then students can make a flavor of choice, and if it becomes a hit, we will continue to make it,” said senior dairy manufacturing and dairy production major, Laura Frye.

SDSU encourages innovation for every student worker at the plant, and they get to exercise their creative sides and take chances by inventing different flavors.

Essential hands-on experience is also something that the Davis Dairy Plant provides, as students will need the skills learned there to become successful in the dairy business in the future.

“The dairy plant has helped me with my future aspirations as it has taught me how a manufacturing plant works on a small scale,” said junior dairy manufacturing and dairy production major, Denver Stage.  

In addition to critical experience and great opportunities, everyone who works at the Davis Dairy Plant, as well as the Dairy Bar, has to pay close attention to sanitation and cleanliness of the facilities.

“I currently assist in running the pasteurizer CIP (cleaning in place) wash cycles. This cleans all the pipes and tanks that are involved with pasteurizing ice cream mix which contains cream, sugar and flavoring. Cleaning and sanitation is a major importance with running a manufacturing facility,” Frye said.

There are certain days of the week for making different dairy products and for cleaning. On Mondays and Tuesdays, cheese is made, Wednesdays are when the ice cream mix is made and packaging for the ice cream is prepared. Thursdays the ice cream is packaged and on Fridays cleaning is done as well as an inventory of all the products on hand.  

Filled with set temperatures and stages where certain ingredients can then be added, the ice cream procedure has to be followed exactly.

“The best part about working at the Davis Dairy Plant is the sense of independence you gain from learning how to safely manufacture products,” said senior production and agricultural communication major, Taylor Gilmore.

By continuing to train new generations of students, the Davis Dairy Plant provides them with expertise and valuable work experience.