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National Dairy Challenge
At this contest, students become an inspiration

Pictured left to right in back are Jacklyn Schroeder, Sean LaGreca and Coach Bruce Richards. Seated are Caitlin Barwise and Nicole Hood.

By NICOLE HOOD
DelVal senior

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- Education, teamwork and networking are three things students must exhibit at the National Dairy Challenge. Delaware Valley College was represented by team members Caitlin Barwise, Sean LaGreca, Nicole Hood and Jacklyn Schroeder. They were coached by Dr. Bruce Richards and Aaron Stepnoski. The contest took place in Fort Wayne, Indiana, April 3-5.

There is one major difference between the Dairy Challenge contest and other contests or career fair opportunities that students can embrace in college.

At this contest, students become an inspiration and represent a new hope to the dairy industry. The impact of our presentations actually makes a difference to the farms we evaluate. One of the judges Delaware Valley College presented to was a California farmer whose dairy was evaluated during the Dairy Challenge contest in 2009. He talked about his passion for the contest, and how simply by being a host farm and getting to listen in to the innovative recommendations the college students presented, he was able to save his family’s farm and even make it very profitable. As the farmer told his story, tears began to form in his eyes, and at that point he had drawn in undivided attention by all.

Dairy Challenge gives students a chance to network. Throughout the week, students and professionals are encouraged to interact at career fairs, various demonstrations and also at casual socials and dinners. This opens up a world of opportunities as sponsors of the contest get to see firsthand the future “assets” of their respective industries. Students meet others from all over the U.S., making friends and learning about new career options.

The Dairy Challenge contest, in my opinion, is more than just a contest; it’s an experience of a lifetime. It makes all the hard work that goes into earning an education beyond high school feel absolutely worth it, the often challenging task of working as a team becomes a place where you can truly value the characteristics of each individual you encounter, networking becomes an easy practice, and at the end of the week, you truly have made a difference in someone’s life, which is simply indescribable.