Dairy Farms Encouraged to Host On-Farm Interns for Summer of 2023

Producers Can Mentor College Students Who Are Interested in Dairy Production

Dairy producers from Pennsylvania and beyond are encouraged to apply to be a host farm in the 2023 On-Farm Internship Program. The program was designed to provide 10- to 12-week on-farm internships and create opportunities for Pennsylvania students to gain practical knowledge, information, and skills about progressive dairy operations. The Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP), Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, and Dairy Excellence Foundation partner each year to support this program. Host farm applications must be submitted by November 15, 2022.

“If you’re looking for an intern to work on your dairy operation next summer, the On-Farm Internship Program is a rewarding way to help mentor and share your experience with a young professional who wants to pursue a career in the dairy industry,” said Michelle Shearer, Workforce Development Manager at the Dairy Excellence Foundation. “Interns benefit from gaining hands-on experience and being exposed to all aspects of your operation while many host farms also benefit from getting a new, outside perspective.”

Throughout the summer internship, host farms will be expected to create goals and areas of focus for the student. As part of these goals, interns will participate in discussion groups and work closely with their host farm to complete an in-depth research project that benefits the dairy operation. Past interns have completed research projects on preventing mastitis, nutrition and feed management, genetics and breeding, standard operating procedures, regenerative farm business planning, and more.

“We enjoyed being a host farm because everyone [on our team] not only taught someone interested in dairy, but we also learned from our intern as well. She focused on helping improve our feeding program, and we have seen great improvements to the program. She was dedicated, determined and paid attention to even the smallest details,” said Kiersten Foster of Table Rock Farm in Castile, New York, a previous host farm in the program.

Host farms are also expected to provide feedback and hold 30-day and final reviews with the intern. Farms that apply for the program may be located within or outside of Pennsylvania, but producers must agree to expose the intern to all aspects of a successful, progressive dairy operation. In addition, host farms must be:

  • A progressive, well-managed dairy business with a positive outlook on the industry
  • Willing to expose the intern to all aspects of a successful, progressive dairy operation including financial information and management team meetings with adequate training and consultation in order to achieve learning objectives
  • Willing to provide information concerning organizational policies and procedures
  • Able to pay the intern a standard employee wage in adherence with all federal and state employment requirements and competitive with industry standards
  • Able to provide a safe working environment and conduct a safety and animal care overview upon the start of the internship
  • Willing to carry Workman’s Compensation Insurance on the intern and add the intern onto the farm’s commercial vehicle policy

“Hosting an intern directly benefited our farm in one way by lightening the workload of other team members, giving more opportunity for time off. We also saw the benefits of giving an individual who is seeking a career in agriculture some real-world experience before entering their career,” said Josh Brubaker of Brubaker Farms in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, a previous host farm in the program.

Host farm applications are due by November 15, 2022 and can be submitted online. Visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/internship to apply and learn more about the program. Contact Michelle Shearer at mshearer@centerfordairyexcellence.org or 570-768-8316 with questions.