The Scholarships Allowed Young Dairy Professionals to Network and Grow Their Skillsets
A group of 29 young dairy professionals recently received scholarships to attend the 2022 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit on February 2-3 in Lancaster, Pa. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, the Center for Dairy Excellence, and the Dairy Excellence Foundation awarded the Young Professionals Scholarships to individuals between the ages of 17-25 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 professional development.
“I did this experience and applied for the scholarship with the hopes of networking with people in my area. I graduated in May of 2020 and now work as an assistant herdsman on a dairy farm in Lancaster County,” said Holly Musser who attended the event.
Individuals who received the Young Professionals Scholarship and attended the Summit include Ryan Allen, Cameron Calabro, Katerina Coffman, Hannah Diehl, Maddie Fairfield, Timothy Finnegan, Killiann George, Madelynn Hoffman, Thomas Hollway, Hannah Hoover, Isabella Johnson, Olivia Jones, Sierra Kapusta, Roxanne Kingsley, Austin Kolb, Tiffany Lenhart, Alexis Long, Victoria Longenecker, FaithLynn Moore, Sarah Mullen, Holly Musser, Molly O’Sullivan, Joanne Powell, Melanie Showers, Karley Sickler, Elizabeth Stoltzfus, Kara Stultz, Katelyn Taylor, and Eamonn Walton.
The scholarship winners attended the two-day Dairy Summit as well as a Young Professionals Reception. During the reception, they were paired with mentors and networked with dairy professionals of all ages. The reception also featured four panelists who shared advice and insight about their careers in the dairy industry.
Stephanie and Hayley Painter, The Painterland Sisters from Tioga County, Pa., shared how they have developed their own Organic Skyr Yogurt line. They described how they have worked to make their family’s fourth-generation organic dairy and crop farm more sustainable by entering the value-added space.
“It felt surreal because we’ve been working so hard for the last two years, and now we actually have something tangible we can talk about. We have our product and can explain how we got there,” said Hayley Painter. “When you’re working that long and trying to bring an idea to life, you don’t really stop and reflect on where you came. Getting to explain [our journey] and why we do what we do was the coolest part of being on the panel.”
“We talked to students who were in our shoes. We got to see the ideas they have and give them guidance on where they want to go. When I was in their position, I would have loved having these connections with dairy farms,” added Stephanie Painter. “It’s inspirational to hear how energetic and excited these kids are. It’s great to feel I can make a difference with them and give them the opportunity to hear how broad their horizons are.”
Carli Woodward, an Account Manager from Phibro Animal Health, also spoke on the panel and shared how she found her start as a consultant in the dairy industry.
“I did not grow up on a dairy farm, so everything I know about the industry I learned by someone else sharing their experience,” she said. “I think it’s important to keep getting young people involved and interested in this industry and if I can play a small part in that, I am happy to help.”
Donny Bartch of Merrimart Farms in Perry County, Pa. was also featured on the panel, and he shared how his journey took him from a non-farm upbringing to today being the owner of a 260-cow dairy. He encouraged the young professionals to remember their purpose and motivation for working in the dairy industry. “Both generations should remember, at the end of the day, you have to step back and think about what this is all for,” Donny said.
Young professionals who are interested in receiving a scholarship for the 2023 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit should look for applications to be released in November 2022. Individuals who are attending college or working on dairy farms between the ages of 17-25 are eligible to apply. The 2023 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit will take place on February 8-9, 2023 at the Penn Stater in State College, Pa.