Day of Dairy provides education, exposure to the dairy industry for Iowa State students


By Nic Wackerly, [email protected]

Cows eating at the Iowa State dairy farm on Thursday.

Nic Wackerly

The roots of Iowa State originate with agriculture, and more than 150 years later, students still have the opportunity to pursue careers in dairy and food science, keeping with the tradition of providing for Iowa and the rest of the country.

Iowa State and the Midwest Dairy Association teamed up Thursday to offer Iowa State students the experience to see how dairy goes from the farm to the table as well as listen to those from the industry explain their personal history with dairy.

Students were able to tour the Iowa State Dairy Farm and experience how dairy cows are cared for and maintained to provide healthy milk. Later, they were treated to dinner and were able to have their questions answered about what it is like to have a career in dairy.

“This is our third year sponsoring this Day of Dairy with Iowa State,” said Trish Scorpio, vice president of integrated communications for Midwest Dairy Association. “People today are more interested than ever in where their food comes from. They want to know about local food and how it was produced, and so we really want to have that conversation with students.”

Students on the tour were able to see the care that is provided for the cows as well as the process of milking them. Mericia Boutchee, senior in food science, was one of the students who took the tour.

“I have been here doing research before, but I just wanted to see more of the cows, and seeing the whole farm aspect,” Boutchee said.

Part of the experience was to introduce students to dairy and all of the different career opportunities that exist within the field.

“We can help introduce some different career opportunities to these students who might be trying to figure out what they want to do next,” Scorpio said. “We are just really hoping to show students how many great opportunities there are where a knowledge of dairy can be very helpful.”

After the tour of the dairy farm, the students listened to professionals speak about their experiences in the industry.

Kellee Mullen, a research associate for Kemin Industries, emphasized the importance of students taking advantage of the opportunities around them to experience different environments.

“Take all the opportunities you have while in school, all the different internships, summer jobs and jobs during the semester, try different things, so that helps you figure out what you want to do,” Mullen said.

Experiences like this one with the Midwest Dairy Association and the Iowa State Dairy Farm can be very influential in helping a student decide what they want to pursue in their professional career.

“Seeing the cows and how everybody interacts with the cows just makes me want to be in a dairy department even more,” Boutchee said.