Dairy products judging team and intercollegiate dairy challenge team place in top at national contests

Brianna Schreurs

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SDSU COLLEGE OF AG AND BIO MEDIA

The South Dakota State University Dairy Products Judging Team and Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge Team had noteworthy finishes at their respective competitions this spring. The Dairy Products Judging Team won the national championship at the 2018 Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest. The Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge Team placed seventh at the 17th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge®.

“The students’ hard work over the course of the year shows in their performance,” said Dairy and Food Science Department Head Vikram Mistry. “Our coaches and their assistants are passionate about these programs and provide students excellent direction and education. These two programs reflect the unique offerings of the department, providing opportunities from farm to product.”

Dairy Products Judging Team

The 2018 Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest was held on April 18, 2018, in Milwaukee, Wis. A total of 49 undergraduate and graduate contestants from 15 universities in the U.S. participated in the contest.

Team members were Anna Hemenway, Huron, S.D.; Greg Reeter, Volga, S.D.; Megan Struss, New Ulm, Minn.; Ahmed Hammam, Assiut, Egypt. Lloyd Metzger, SDSU Professor of Dairy Science and Alfred Chair in Dairy Education, and Bennet Baker, SDSU student, served as coaches.

At the national contest, the team placed first in butter, ice cream and yogurt, second in milk and fourth in cottage cheese and Cheddar cheese. Struss was also the top overall judge, receiving the Robert Rosenbaum Award.

The team also competed in the 2018 Midwest Regional Collegiate Dairy Products Judging Contest on April 7, 2018 in Coopersville, Mich. They placed first in All Products and Hemenway achieved second overall.

“The team did exceptionally well,” Metzger said. “Dairy products judging teaches the students to identify flavor and quality defects in six different dairy products. This critical skill helps manufacturers produce products that have the desired taste and texture, as well as helping to quickly identify and correct problems that can occur during the manufacturing process.”

In dairy products judging, students evaluate the appearance, texture and flavor of milk, butter, Cheddar cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cottage cheese. Members of the judging team often obtain a position in quality control or manufacturing and they use their product judging skills to identify issues and improve the quality of dairy products.

According to Mistry, students from SDSU have been competing in dairy products judging since the beginning of the judging program in 1916. SDSU has won the national championship nine out of the last 10 years and 24 times in the 96-year history of the contest.

The Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge Team participated in the 17th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) held April 12-14 in Visalia, Calif. The SDSU team placed seventh overall at the national contest.

The team consisted of Olivia Bartel, New London, Wis.; Kelli Berger, Lake Benton, Minn.; Caleb Blaisdell, Starbuck, Minn.; Audrey Souza, Milbank, S.D. Melissa Schmitt, Assistant Manager at the SDSU Dairy Research and Training Facility served as coach. Students Chelsea Schossow and Jacob Weg were assistant coaches.

“Participating in Dairy Challenge gives students a great opportunity to not only use the knowledge learned in class, but also to gain hands-on experience in evaluating a dairy farm,” Schmitt said. “This program is very beneficial to be involved in, as it helps to better understand the economics of running a dairy business and what it takes to be a successful dairy farmer.”

In total, 235 students from 38 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada attended this educational event. Participants visited six dairy farms in California as part of their training to help farmers evaluate and adapt management to optimize success and animal care. Also, industry professionals presented cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

Each contest team received information from an area dairy, including production and farm management data. After an in-person inspection of the dairy, students interviewed the herd owners. Each team developed a farm analysis and recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

The event culminated with team members presenting recommendations and then fielding questions from a panel of judges. These official judges included dairy producers and industry experts in dairy finances, reproduction, nutrition and animal health. Judges evaluated presentations for accuracy of analysis and recommendations, with awards presented at a final banquet.

According to Mistry, SDSU students have been competing in the Dairy Challenge event since 2003.