University of Idaho Team Excels in National, Regional Dairy Competitions

Wednesday, April 6 2011

Written by Bill Loftus

MOSCOW, Idaho –– University of Idaho dairy students brought home reserve platinum awards from the 10th North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge held in Hickory, N.C., March 31-April 2.

During the event's history, more than 3,000 college students from across the U.S. and Canada country participated in the innovative dairy educational program. North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech organized this year's contest, which drew 127 college students from 30 schools.

Idaho's winning team from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences included Jeff Blickenstaff, a senior majoring in animal and vet science from Moscow; Tyler Reynolds, a senior majoring in agricultural system management; Jennifer Spencer, a junior majoring in animal and veterinary science from Boise, and Alan Willmore, a senior majoring in animal and veterinary science from Moscow. The students received $100 scholarships.

Dairy science professor Amin Ahmadzadeh and University of Idaho Extension dairy specialist Mireille Chahine coached the team.

"The team identified the problems the judges saw, and the judges commended the students for recognizing that nutrition was one of the farm's biggest problems," Ahmadzadeh said. "The judges complimented the students on their proposed solution."

"The judges appreciated the partial budgeting done by the students on each of the recommendations," he added.

The teams served as consultants to four participating dairies. Students analyzed each dairy's operations, then met with owners to present their findings and recommendations for improvements. Judges scored the students on their findings and presentations.

At Fresno, Calif., in the earlier American Dairy Science Association – Student Affiliate Division event, the Idaho team collected individual honors. Spencer won outstanding member honors and first place in the paper presentation category for original research, both worth a total of $400 in scholarships. Emily Brown, an animal and vet science major from Enumclaw, Wash., took second place in the production division and won a $50 scholarship.

Spencer was elected second vice president of the western regional officer/adviser team. Cynthia Scholte, an animal and vet science major from Moscow, was elected officer at large.

A graduate of Mountain View High School in Meridian, Spencer grew interested in dairy science after starting her studies as a pre-vet student in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. A College of Agricultural and Life Science ambassador, she also serves as president of the University of Idaho dairy club and works as an assistant in an animal science laboratory.

Ahmadzadeh was named outstanding advisor at the competition and first year advisor on the regional team.

Last weekend's North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge is an innovative two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. Its mission is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhances the development of the dairy industry and its leaders.

The program is funded by companies and producer associations serving the dairy industry, as well as a growing number of alumni and individual dairy farm owners. More information is available at