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Working knowledge pays off with international win for WSU Dairy Challenge Team

Washington State University’s undergraduate Dairy Challenge Team won first-place honors and $200 scholarships at the North American challenge. From left are Joe Britt, Megan Cihak, Landon Macy, advisor John Swain and Kelby Stadt. Courtesy photo.
Washington State University’s undergraduate Dairy Challenge Team won first-place honors and $200 scholarships at the North American challenge. From left are Joe Britt, Megan Cihak, Landon Macy, advisor John Swain and Kelby Stadt. Courtesy photo.

Four students used working knowledge from the WSU Animal Sciences program to win first place at the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, held April 9 to 11 in Syracuse, N.Y.

As the WSU Dairy Challenge team, Joseph Britt, Megan Cihak, Landon Macy and Kelby Stadt solved problems on a working dairy farm to win the top rank, Platinum. Each teammate received a $200 scholarship.

The team competed against 270 fellow college students, touring farms, questioning owners and presenting recommendations on nutrition, animal health, financial management, and other factors. A panel of judges, including farmers, veterinarians and finance specialists, weighed their decisions and selected winners.

All four teammates are seniors in the Department of Animal Science. All are past or present members of CUDS, the Cooperative University Dairy Students club, with work experience from the WSU Knott Dairy Farm, classes, clubs and summer jobs.

Veterans of past Dairy Challenges, they knew exactly what to do at Syracuse.

“We didn’t spend a lot of time on smaller issues,” said Cihak. “We went to the farm, found our three biggest issues, and said, ‘Here we go,’” focusing on udder infection, reproduction and cows in early stages of lactation.

Preparation was crucial for the team. One of their biggest challenges was making time in a busy senior-year schedule to visit dairies and practice presentation skills.

“It took the whole team to keep each other focused, schedule trips together and buckle down so we could be ready for New York,” Macy said.

“This win is a culmination of all four years of schooling,” said Britt.

“We have proven that we have what it takes to work in the industry,” added Stadt.

The WSU team is coached by John Swain, an instructor and manager of the university’s Knott Dairy Farm, and animal sciences professor Larry Fox.

Swain “put in a lot of time during our four years to coach us and groom our team, and you could tell he was proud of us,” said Macy. “To get this one for him felt great.”

“This is a huge accomplishment for the students, their coaches and our department, college and university,” said Margaret Benson, chair of the Department of Animal Sciences. “Our team’s performance is evidence that our students’ education prepares them well to address relevant industry challenges.

Learn more about Animal Sciences at WSU.

Learn more about the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge.

Media Contacts

John Swain, WSU Dairy Challenge Team coach, (509) 335-1338