Monday, March 11, 2013

Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium

Recently, I ran into a dairy professor I worked with in college during the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium (SGPDCT) in 2008. Has it really been FIVE years already?!

I first heard about the program during the Western Dairy Challenge that year from one of my Texas A&M teammates. I firmly believe in the saying, “If you get a chance, take it; if it changes your life, let it.” So I said, “Sure, why not?!” My family thought I was a little crazy at the time. I didn’t know exactly where Clovis, N.M., was, but I was going to spend six weeks there for a dairy program. That sounded good to me!

When I sent in my application for the consortium, I didn’t entirely know what I was in for. Looking back, I am so glad I acted on the impulse to apply and spend those six weeks in eastern New Mexico. It was one of the best experiences of my college career.
SGPDCT Class 1, 2008

The program began in 2008 and brings together dairy students, professors and industry professionals for a unique learning experience. Students spend the first half of the day in the classroom at Clovis Community College learning from some of the best professors in the nation and then spend the afternoon learning about the real-life application on the large dairies in the Clovis area. We also toured some calf ranches, feed mills and cheese plants.

The SGPDCT is a multi-university, interagency organization established to meet the educational and research needs of the rapidly expanding dairy industry in the Southern Great Plains. The SGPDCT is created specifically to address the need to improve the availability of dairy science education at universities in the Southwest and to ensure the growing dairy industry a well-qualified pool of prospective employees for future employment.

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. The information resonated with me because I had some basic knowledge on the subjects before participating. In 2008, the main topics were: finances, record systems, cow comfort and nutrition. I would recommend taking some basic classes in repro, nutrition and accounting before participating in this program.
The five of us girls and Ray
Since it is six weeks in a small town in New Mexico, friendships form fast amongst classmates. I had an awesome class and we had a blast.

The program has grown tremendously since my inaugural class of 18 students. This year, there were about 72 applicants and more than 50 in the class. WOW! That is fantastic!! More universities are joining the consortium and finding value in the program.
Courses are taught in the middle of the third largest milk shed in the U.S., and credits are applicable to the student’s program at their home university. Since I was one of the two students (both Kevin and I were from WSU) that first year not to hail from a university in the southwest, it was a great opportunity not only to learn a lot about dairy science, but also to travel and see how dairies are managed in other areas of the country.

Wednesday Sponsor Night Dinner
On Wednesday evenings, representatives from the dairy industry meet with the students. Students are able to interact with industry leaders, learn more about the dairy industry and find out about future career opportunities.
In short, I HIGHLY recommend the SGPDCT to any upperclassman dairy science student. It is a great investment of your time. Make the most of it! Don’t forget to network while you are there!

Progressive Dairyman published a few articles about the program in 2008 and 2010. I wrote about this a few years ago in my Proud to Dairy blog and a few other consortium alumni have shared their thoughts on the program as well.
If you are interested in participating in the consortium, I encourage you to visit their Web site for more information. I’m also more than happy to discuss the program in more detail. 

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