Midwest Dairy announced the first class of the Dairy Experience and Agricultural Leadership Program, a new initiative that will help develop the dairy leaders of tomorrow. This 18-month program provides an opportunity for young dairy farmers across the region to gain a deeper understanding of dairy checkoff while strengthening skills for engaging with consumers, conducting media interviews and networking with industry professionals and peers.

The 2020-2021 class of participants was selected using a competitive application process that included written essays and farmer references. These 15 young dairy farmers, ages 40 and younger, represent dairy farm families from across the Midwest Dairy region and have demonstrated a passion for sharing their stories and helping lead the future of dairy farming. Inaugural class participants are: 

  • Ashton Atteberry, Conway, Missouri;

  • Pat Bakeberg, Waverly, Minnesota;

  • Logan Courtney, Chouteau, Oklahoma;

  • Dakota Cowger, Peotone, Illinois;

  • Angie Hildebrandt, South Beloit, Illinois;

  • Andrew Miron, Hugo, Minnesota;

  • Carrie Murman, Glenvil, Nebraska;

  • Tyler Otte, Randolph, Minnesota;

  • Josie Rozum, Ely, Iowa;

  • Megan Schrupp, Eden Valley, Minnesota;

  • Heath Snodgrass, Orchard, Nebraska;

  • Aaron Titterington, Spence, Iowa

  • Rita Vander Kooi, Worthington, Minnesota;

  • Scott VanZyverden, Niangua, Missouri; and

  • Ben Yoder, Hutchinson, Kansas.

The DEAL program will have three phases, each phase with large group in-person meetings along with local assignments, such as meeting their local Midwest Dairy leadership team members, participating in consumer events and media opportunities.

The first phase will start with a group trip to San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 11 to 13, 2020, and will be a deep-dive into the role and strategies of dairy checkoff at both the national and regional/state levels. It will also feature workshops and discussions to help the participants hone in on their top strengths and how they can use these talents and skills to help their businesses and the industry as a whole. Following two more phases, each complete with learnings and tasks in between the group meetings, this program will conclude in July of 2021. 

“The DEAL program offers a tremendous opportunity for tomorrow’s dairy leaders to stretch themselves and gain the knowledge and skills needed to help dairy thrive,” said Theresa Reps, Agricultural Affairs manager at Midwest Dairy. “We’re looking forward to helping these young leaders maximize their strengths while they gain a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of the industry, positioning them to be strong voices for the future of dairy.”

Recruitment for the next class of DEAL participants will begin in 2021. For more information visit MidwestDairy.com.

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