SEBRING, Ohio —Young adults from coast to coast are spending a week in Ohio to learn what potential opportunities are available in the dairy world.
The bus load of young people visited the Grammer Jersey Farm in Mahoning County, owned by Bill and Debbie Grammer, July 19.
The Jersey Youth Academy, funded through the efforts of US Jersey, the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey, Inc. and allied industries, is now is in its second year. The program funds the entire week for the young adults, including food, air fare, bus transportation and all other costs.
Cherie Bayer, Jersey Youth Academy coordinator described the Jersey Youth Academy as a course in human resource development.
After realizing, there weren’t enough youth returning to the Jersey world to fill the positions available, such as farm manager, the breed association went to work to try and fill the void and keep farm youth involved in agriculture as a career.
“The number one goal for this program is for them to discover that niche or passion that keeps them in the Jersey business,” said Bayer.
Bayer said the program shows the youth the career opportunities available first hand. It shows them how farmers are making a profit and how the entire industry is successful.
The students are chosen through a national application process. A call was issued last fall for young people between the ages of a junior in high school to a junior in college. The application also asks what type of career they want to pursue.
Bayer said the organization is making a huge investment in the students and they had to make a case for themselves on why they should be included in the event.
“The important thing for the youngsters to have is ambition and goals to be in the dairy industry and Jersey business,” Bayer said.
Cassie Chittenden, who is from a 500-cow dairy in New York, said the one thing in common that she has noticed is that every farm is different and has a story to tell of their own.
“I’m learning there is no cookie cutter model to dairy farming,” said Chittenden.
Alexandra La Prise, who grew up on a 35-head Jersey cow dairy in Rhode Island, said the one goal on every farm is the same and they are taking that lesson home with them.
“The goal, no matter what size the farm or number of dairy cattle, is that they want to make a profit,” said La Prise.
Tommy Allen, who is from a Jersey farm in Wisconsin, said the tour taught him that there is unlimited potential to what he can do in the Jersey business.
“You can work in an air-conditioned office and still be active in the dairy industry. There are so many possibilities,” Allen said.
Chittenden chimed in that they didn’t realize the number of opportunities available to them until the tour.
“This has given us unexpected opportunities that can lead us down a path we didn’t realize even existed before,” she said.
The youth stayed on the campus of The Ohio State University and attended sessions from experts such as Dr. Kent Weigel from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Genetic Programs administrator and Dr. Jude Clapper, of Washington State University about the role of the dairy industry and sustainability.
The tour wraps on July 22 after touring dairy businesses such as COBA Select Sires and learning about calf nutrition and management involving calf hutches from industry professionals.