Laying the Groundwork for the Next Generation of Dairy

The world is changing, and so are the dairy and education communities. As consumers change the way they consume food and dairy products, the students we serve are changing the way they consume information and knowledge. This year, the Dairy Excellence Foundation has remained creative and vigilant as we adapted our programming and enhanced our virtual curriculum to better serve students and teachers who are learning in new environments. From virtual farm tours and scholarship opportunities to on-farm internships and technology-driven curriculum, we are working to bring the future of dairy into focus for the next generation of producers. For high school students who learn about dairy business management, herd health and animal care through our Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program, what may start as an ambiguous interest in animals can evolve into a career path with a clear focus. For elementary students who participate in our Adopt a Cow program, what may start as initial excitement about a baby calf can emerge into a lifelong appreciation for local agriculture and dairy farming. As we continue to educate the students of tomorrow and lay the groundwork for future careers in dairy, innovation, ingenuity and community are our driving forces.

— Jayne Sebright, Executive Director

“As I reflect on the challenges we’ve all faced over the past year within the dairy industry, it’s important to reflect on some of the positive impacts the Foundation has made to our communities and the next generation of dairy. Our virtual Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow (DLT) and Discover Dairy programs have not only gained national recognition but have impacted the lives of Pennsylvania’s next generation of dairy leaders. This year, the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program has impacted over 23,000 students and 500 educators. In addition, Discover Dairy programs impacted over 207,000 students and had over 900 classrooms enrolled in the Adopt a Cow program. Our social media programs continue to grow, with more than 2,000 followers across different media platforms. This is critically important to share the Foundation’s impact and the great work that is happening across the dairy industry. I am excited for our future. Now more than ever, we are set up to grow in this new environment.”

—Eric Boyle, Chairman of the Board of Director

Helping Each Other Move Forward: Get Involved in the Foundation

Cultivating the next generation of dairy producers involves the passion and dedication of our collective community. The Foundation’s next-generation educational programming depends on the support and charitable giving from our donors and contributors. Interested in getting involved in Foundation programs? We’re always looking for volunteers to host and mentor on-farm interns, lead farm tour workshops, sponsor student lunches, or make annual contributions.

“In this industry, I think it’s important for you to learn about the Foundation. If you have the knowledge of what the Foundation can do, you can offer your clients another piece or value. Why not give them something to help them educate themselves as well as their friends, neighbors and children? In this day and age, we can all add some value to each other. It’s important we take care of our own and help them move forward. Let someone be on your farm as an intern. Consider sponsoring. If we do that, we can all keep the dairy industry growing.”

— Melissa Laudenklos, Zoetis, a Dairy Excellence Foundation donor

The Power of Opportunity

The Foundation awards 10+ scholarships each school year to students pursuing careers in dairy.

“Being awarded this scholarship means more than just money — it tells me I am seen as having the potential for being a future leader in the dairy industry, which is great motivation going into my senior year of college! I will be able to spend less time working and more time on my studies. Finishing my college career strong will help my GPA and my knowledge base, which I will use to land a job in the dairy industry.”

— Hanna Welk, Student Leader Scholarship recipient

Second-Graders Connect with Dairy Farming Through Adopt a Cow Program

Second graders at Jackson Elementary in Eastern Lebanon County School District received an inside look at dairy farming this school year through Discover Dairy’s “Adopt a Cow” program. With agriculture being such a big part of their community, Becky Kleinfelter decided to sign up for the year-long interactive learning series.

“We live in a farming community, so it’s important for students to learn about agriculture,” she said. “We also have an agricultural week where high school students come down and teach us about agriculture, so I thought [the Adopt a Cow program] would give us a jumpstart on learning some of those things.”

When the program launched, the second-graders received a photo and certificate for Patty, the calf their classroom ‘adopted’ from a local dairy farm. Throughout the year, they received updates on Patty’s growth through videos, photos and activity sheets. Kleinfelter also incorporated hands-on learning activities and Discover Dairy curriculum to give her students a deeper understanding of the dairy industry and food production. “They have to know food doesn’t get produced out of midair. It takes a lot of work from the farmer to produce good quality, healthy food,” she said.

For students who enjoy being around animals, Kleinfelter says the program opened their eyes to future careers in the agriculture industry. She also credits the comprehensive lesson plans and vocabulary lists for helping her lead engaging, in-depth discussions with her students.

“I grew up in this area, but I’ve never lived on a farm so I don’t know a lot of the vocabulary,” Kleinfelter said. “It was really nice having the lesson plans laid out and focused on vocabulary, so I could teach students the correct terms to use when they’re speaking about farms and different animals.”

The second-graders even had the opportunity to expand on what they learned in the classroom by participating in live video chats, where they talked directly with the farmer who cares for the calf each day.

High School Students Explore Dairy Industry in Virtual Format

The next generation of dairy doesn’t look the same as it did five months ago, let alone 10 years ago. To navigate these changes and continue preparing students to pursue careers in the dairy industry, many agriculture teachers are using the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow (DLT) program.

At Cumberland Valley High School in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, agriculture teacher Darla Romberger mentors high school independent study students. This year, one of her students completed all three units in the DLT program.

“I like how the DLT curriculum has the option of being utilized individually by students,” Romberger said. “I had an independent study student, Amanda, go through all three components at her own pace. I could track her progress and see how far she was getting. The flexibility was really key.”

Amanda took two weeks to work through the online courses independently, completing two to three lessons each day. After growing up on her family’s dairy farm, Amanda says the program gave her practical takeaways and knowledge she can apply if she gets more involved on the farm in the future.

Darla Romberger (left) mentors and teaches Amanda (right)

“It was really nice to have the independent time to do it. My biggest takeaway was ultimately herd management. It made me feel like I have the knowledge to do hands-on things on the farm. I don’t have to sit back and watch other people do it,” Amanda said.

Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow is a comprehensive, three-part model that includes classroom lessons, on-farm experiences, and scholarship opportunities. Available in a digital format with online modules that allow students to work independently at their own pace, the DLT curriculum includes courses on Dairy Herd Management and Dairy Business Management.

College Sophomore Completes On-Farm Internship and Focuses on Future of Dairy

As a college student approaching her sophomore year at the State University of New York (SUNY) Cobleskill, Lily Fries decided to complete a summer internship at Schrack Farms, a dairy farm in Loganton, Pennsylvania.

“I come from a small dairy farm, but I wanted to get experience at a bigger level to see what I could bring to the table and also what I could learn from the Harbach family at Schrack Farms,” she said.

For Doug Harbach of Schrack Farms, providing a hands-on summer internship is one way he can mentor and influence the next generation of dairy farmers. He also used the internship as an opportunity to grow and evaluate his dairy operation by encouraging Lily to challenge him and share her perspective throughout the summer.

“When I was in college 20 years ago, I did an internship. I learned a lot through that internship program, so I decided if I could have an intern here on our farm, it would help the next generation of dairy farmers get involved and show them what we do,” Doug said. “We try to find interns who will challenge us and ask us questions about why we do what we do. Lily was good at that. It helped us revaluate our processes and what we’re doing.”

After college, Lily hopes to build on her internship experience and become a herd manager on a dairy farm.

“The internship helped me learn how to run things the proper way, management-wise, and get on-farm experience. I’ve grown up around dairy since I was little, so it has always been in my heart. I just want to continue with it,” Lily added.

Funding Sources and Allocation of Expenses

Center for Dairy Excellence Board Members

Chairman: Eric Boyle, Hershey, Pa.
Vice Chairperson: Walt Moore, West Grove, Pa. 
Secretary: Rachel Cloninger, University Park, Pa.
Treasurer: Dave Hileman, Tyrone, Pa.
Jeff Harding, State College, Pa.
Patti McLaughlin, Elliottsburg, Pa.
Jaylene Lesher, Bernville, Pa.
Kevin Peter, Media, Pa.
Justin Potts, Hershey, Pa.
Jim Van Blarcom, Columbia Crossroads, Pa.
Mark Mosemann, Warfordsburg, Pa.

2019-20 Foundation Contributors