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UW River Falls team masters national dairy challenge

The Dairy Challenge winning team seated left to right are Elizabeth Simonis and Carl Lippert; standing left to right are Riley Jolma, Sylvia Kehoe and Jonathon Hallock. <i>Submitted photo</i>

A four-member team from UW-River Falls earned a first place award in the 12th annual national Dairy Challenge contest held in Fort Wayne, Ind., April 4-6.

The contest involved 128 students from 32 universities. The winning local team, comprised of Jonathon Hallock of Mondovi, Riley Jolma of Marengo, Carl Lippert of Pittsville, and Elizabeth Simonis of Oconomowoc, was coached by Sylvia Kehoe, associate professor of dairy science. Each team member receives a $200 scholarship.

Dairy Challenge participants put their textbook knowledge to the ultimate test in consulting for an actual dairy. Each university fielded a four-person team that competed without the aid of coaches or the Internet. Each team was assigned to one of four operating dairies that they were to analyze and provide recommendations to improve their profitability.

In addition to a walk-through of the assigned dairy, teams were provided with farm data and had a question and answer session with the farm owners. Recommendations encompassed the areas of nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

On the third day of the event, the teams presented their recommendations to the farm owners and were evaluated by a panel of five judges including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and industry personnel.