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By Jenny Stockdale
  • Animal Science
  • Animals
  • Food
  • Dairy
Libby Swatling ’24 describes herself as "cow-obsessed." Since age two, when she was first introduced to a Jersey cow on a dairy farm in Saratoga County, New York, she was hooked.

Now majoring in animal science at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Cornell CALS), Swatling aspires to be in dairy management and help improve public understanding of the industry’s sustainable and humane practices. She is one of four undergraduate students who each received $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year, per student) this past year through the Chobani Scholars Program, to help them achieve their dairy career ambitions across four years of study.

Established at Cornell University in 2018, the program provides a multi-year scholarship supporting students – now at both Cornell University and the University of Idaho –who have a family connection to dairy farming and plan to pursue their own careers in the dairy industry.

This second class of Cornell CALS Chobani Scholars said, much like last year’s cohort, that being involved in the dairy industry from a young age made them passionate about continuing to learn from and improve it. All four students also expressed a desire to improve public awareness and understanding around animal well-being and sustainable dairy practices.

“Dairy farmers are here to serve the public and want to provide everyone with the best possible products,” said Rachel Van Buren ’24, another scholarship winner. “I hear so many of my peers criticize the dairy industry for the way they treat the land and their animals. There is a growing gap between consumers and dairy farmers, which is frightening. In the last decade, the dairy industry has taken drastic strides to become more environmentally conscious, and it continues to do so. Happy cows are also profitable cows, and farmers aim to improve the comfort and welfare of their cattle every day.”

With deep ties to the New York state dairy industry, Chobani aims to strengthen local communities and invest in the future of dairy farmers.

“The future of dairy matters to us and one of the best ways to help New York farmers is to equip tomorrow’s dairy leaders with the tools they need to thrive,” said Peter McGuinness, Chobani president and chief operating officer. “The Chobani Scholars program is one way that Chobani is investing in the future of dairy in our home state.”

In addition to the scholarship program, the students will have the opportunity to intern with Chobani during their college careers. The organization plans to support a third cohort at Cornell in fall 2021.

“As the nation’s fourth-largest dairy producer, New York state relies greatly on our future generations of dairy leaders to innovate and bolster the industry, said Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell CALS. "We’re grateful to Chobani for its continued support of our students and our New York state farm families. These scholarships help empower our great minds of tomorrow with a truly life-changing education, today.”

Chobani also awards $200,000 annually in grants through its Community Impact Fund to expand economic opportunity and entrepreneurship in central New York, including just over $63,000 in 2020 to Cornell Cooperative Extension Chenango County and the surrounding region to help make farms more profitable and sustainable.

​​​​​​​A version of this story also published in the Cornell Chronicle.  

Meet the 2020 Chobani Scholars

Meghan Van Althuis ’23

Hometown: Sherburne, New York

“I would not be who I am today if I had not grown up around the dairy industry, and it is important to me that I continue to work in this industry, as it has inspired me greatly.”

Meet the 2020 Chobani Scholars

Rachel Van Buren ‘24

Hometown: Lowville, New York

“The dairy industry has given me my life's passion and I am looking forward to joining the next generation of dairy professionals.”

Meet the 2020 Chobani Scholars

Libby Swatling ’24

Hometown: Clifton Park, New York

“This industry has made me who I am today and has taught me many life lessons. I hope to be able to share and advocate all that I do on the farm in hopes that other people will fall in love with this industry as much as I have.”

Meet the 2020 Chobani Scholars

Lucas Walley ’24

Hometown: Walton, New York

“The industry needs more involvement from younger, progressive dairy people who will push agriculture to meet the needs of future consumers and industry demands, while innovating operations and practices to create breakthroughs in production.”

A person standing next to a baby cow outside
Rachel sitting on a stool outside holding onto a cow's bridal
A person standing in a barn next to dairy cows
Lucas sitting on a horse outside

Jenny Stockdale is associate director marketing and communications in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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