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Students travel to national conference, receive honors

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

The dairy industry plays a vital role in hundreds of communities around our state and Washington State University takes pride in its dairy research and facilities. Many students come to WSU to pursue a career in the dairy industry, ranging from operating a dairy, to processing dairy products, to understanding the marketing and economics that make the dairy industry possible.

A group of seven people standing against a railing overlooking a river and the city of Pittsburgh in the background.
WSU Dairy Club students in Pittsburgh this summer at the American Dairy Association annual conference.

The Pullman campus offers countless opportunities for students from all walks of life to learn and grow in their passions, including chances for them to travel and collaborate with other passionate students from around the country.

The WSU Dairy Club has been offering these opportunities for years and this summer seven students traveled to Pittsburgh for the American Dairy Association annual conference. The Dairy Club has made this trip for many years and it’s become a tradition for students from WSU to be well represented on a national level.

During the conference students have the opportunity to network with fellow dairy students from universities scattering the United States, hear from industry professionals on the latest technology and advancements, and observe student research being conducted around the country.

This year, WSU sent a Quiz Bowl team consisting of Chris Mandella, Marcy Bartelheimer, Nicole Buell, Farrahn O’Hara and Melissa Rauch. They studied diligently in preparation for the conference. It is a competitive process to be selected to compete on the Quiz Bowl team. In June, our WSU Quiz Bowl team received 5th place in the nation after competing in several rounds of knowledge testing. These students are required to have a firm understanding of dairy management from genetics to feed rations. There isn’t much that is off limits during the competition and our CAHNRS Cougs proved to be well versed, dairy professionals after their hard work and dedication in the months leading up to the ADSA conference.

WSU stood out on multiple occasions the conference, a part from the Quiz Bowl competition. WSU’s Chris Mandella was elected as the national president of the student affiliate division of the ADSA. He says, “I was really just hoping for an office, I didn’t expect to be elected as president.”

Chris’s commitment and love for the dairy industry shined through during the election process and he is continuing the legacy of leadership that his fellow CAHNRS Cougs left before him. For the last five years, WSU had a student representative on the national officer team. This alone proves that the WSU supports and promotes the dairy industry and helps build professionals who are not only knowledgeable about the dairy industry but have an inborn passion for it. We congratulate Chris on his accomplishment and look forward to hearing about his leadership during his year in office.

Heather Young traveled to Pittsburg as well to showcase her research that she has been conducting at WSU. Her research poster titled, “Comparison of two housing systems and dairy calf physiological responses during hot weather,” displayed two trials over two summers in which she compared various factors including temperature, body temperature, and average daily gain of pre-weaned holstein calves housed in stalls versus hutches.

Heather Young stand next to poster with statistical graphics on it.
WSU Dairy Club member Heather Young stands next to her poster at the American Dairy Association annual conference this summer.

Heather has presented this research at WSU’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) twice before, but this was the first time she had the opportunity to present her research on a national level. She says, “I received a lot of valuable feedback from the judges that will help me improve the way I present my research in the future.” The overall experience was positive and Heather hopes to attend the conference again next year.

The honors don’t stop at the student level. Dr. Larry Fox, the advisor to the Dairy Club and professor at WSU, also received an award during the ADSA conference. Recognized for his dedication to the dairy industry, in and out of the classroom, Dr. Fox received the Purina Animal Nutrition Teaching Award in Dairy Production. He advised the WSU Dairy Club for the last 32 years and inspired countless students to pursue careers in the dairy industry as well as encourage them to go above and beyond their academic expectations. This includes supporting club members as they prepare for and attend the annual ADSA conference. Dr. Fox nominated two students for the Outstanding Member Award.

Chris Mandella and Nicole Buell received this much deserved award. The club was also recognized for traveling the most miles to the conference, showing our CAHNRS Cougs’ dedication and commitment to hands-on, experiential learning.

Dairy Club members hope to have a larger presence on campus this year and encourage anyone who is interested in the dairy industry to get involved.