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By Tyler Collinson ’25
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  • Dairy Fellows Program
  • Animal Science

The Dairy Fellows program is a partnership connecting Cornell students and faculty with dairy production and agribusinesses around the world. Discover how Dairy Fellows trains the next generation of dairy scientists and practitioners!

1. Dairy Fellows knows real-world, hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn.

Students gain first-hand experience with dairy farm management, animal handling and milk and cheese production through visits to dairy facilities on-campus, across New York State and even internationally.

“In the 28 years I’ve been involved with the Dairy Fellows program, nothing has been more rewarding than getting students engaged with agriculture,”

said Program Director and Professor in Cornell CALS Animal Science, Mike Van Amburgh.  The program embodies the concept of experiential learning and has done so since its inception forty years ago.

2. Students build a curriculum tailored to their unique interests.

One size does not fit all for dairy science. With dozens of career paths to explore, students in Dairy Fellows work with their advisors to determine an academic plan shaped to their career needs. An academic plan may include some of the diverse dairy-related courses offered by Cornell Animal Science and adjacent courses offered outside the department in subjects like food science or business management.

3. The program bridges gaps between business management and agricultural production.

Students expand their knowledge of agribusiness through a practicum in dairy management classes. Courses such as ANSC 2500: Dairy Cattle Principles, ANSC 3510: Dairy Herd Management, ANSC 3511: Junior Dairy Fellows, ANSC 4510 Dairy Business Management and ANSC 4560: Dairy Management Fellowship are a core part of the Dairy Fellows curriculum, enhancing student’s experience with animal management.

In addition, students take non-agricultural business courses in the Johnson School of Business and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, like AEM 1200: Introduction to Business Management, AEM 2050: Agricultural Finance, AEM: 2210; AEM 3020: Farm Business Management, AEM 4050 Farm Credit Fellows and HADM 2740 Business Computing. Convening these two aspects of dairy production, Cornell Dairy Fellows prepares the next generation of agribusiness professionals.

4. Case studies enhance critical thinking and teach students to assess risks based on concrete data.

The program brings students to dairy farms across the northeast, where they apply their knowledge and dive into dairy farm operations through case studies. Students gain experience by conducting risk assessments where they gather data on the farm and present recommendations to address a specific issue.

“You learn to prioritize decision-making. Case studies teach students how to translate what they learn in the classroom to real-world, on-farm decisions,”

said Mike Van Amburgh. “These experiences are a crucial part of the Fellow’s practicum where they learn to apply business management, finance, and communication skills.”

5. Students travel abroad to gain an international perspective of the industry.

Every other year, students in the program pack their suitcases and head abroad! Dairy Fellows brings students to Italian and German dairy production systems, where they explore international agricultural practices. In addition, Cornell students partner with other international students, like at China Agricultural University to complete dairy farm case studies and enhance collaborative and communicative skills. Students are expected to engage with different cultures and learn about the geographic regions they visit.

6. Students in Dairy Fellows engage the community through outreach programs.

Each year, the Dairy Fellows program hosts an open house event in conjunction with the Cornell University Dairy Science (CUDS) club during their cattle sale. Anyone interested in agriculture or dairy science is welcome to attend the open house and learn more about the opportunities offered through Dairy Fellows. The Dairy Science Club also hosts a meet and greet event, along with a campus tour, for high school students interested in studying dairy science at Cornell.

7. Dairy Fellows supports dairy farms across New York State as part of Cornell’s Land-Grant mission.

Cornell CALS’s Land-Grant mission propels the Dairy Fellows program into the wider community, leaving a lasting impact on agriculture across New York State and beyond.

From the management strategies shared with farmers during case studies to outreach programs like open houses for high school students, Dairy Fellows shares Cornell’s agricultural advancements and opportunities with the broader community.

 

Tyler Collinson ’25 is an Animal Science major and student writer for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.

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