Getting An Education Away From Your Education

Story by Taylor Pires, Associate Editor

Hello from the Brock Center!

It’s the third week of the quarter and I feel as though I haven’t been in class at all! There is a valid reason for that, though. I am a member of the Cal Poly Dairy Cattle Evaluation Team and we have been visiting and practicing at dairy farms across the country for the past month as we travel to national judging contests.

For those that may be unfamiliar, dairy cattle evaluation isn’t your typical team sport. We individually look at classes of four cattle and rate them against each other, placing the best first and the worst last. They are judged on the quality and depth of their mammary system, depth of rib and body capacity, refinement and how comfortably they walk on their feet and legs… just to name a few criteria. After placing the classes, we individually give reasons to an official judge on why we placed them they way we did. Our individual scores are combined for an overall team score.

This is our fabulous team (left to right: Manuel Silveira, Karessa Mast, Taylor Pires and Jacob Conway).


I can honestly say traveling all over the country with these three and our dedicated coach, Dr. Stan Henderson, will go down as some of my most memorable times at Cal Poly. Visiting farms on our way to the contests was by far the best part. We saw beautiful cows and impeccably managed farms. We had the opportunity to meet dairy farmers who have an undying love for what they do and who are constantly thinking of ways to diversify and create change within the industry.

A few examples…

At Stone House Farm in Sharon Springs, New York, The Everett Family milks about 50 Jersey cows and has their own Maple operation. They make syrup, candies, maple cream and maple cotton candy which they sell at local festivals. They even host pancake breakfasts at their sap house! If you’re ever in the area ,which is absolutely beautiful in the fall, check them out!

Arethusa Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut is like no other I have ever been to. Their owners don’t have a dairy background. In fact, their owners design shoes. And not just any shoes. Manolo Blahniks. Yes, I’m going crazy on the inside just like our female readers right about now. What truly makes Arethusa Farm unique though is their elite string of cattle and genetics, their spotless barns and their very own creamery. Their motto, “Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such,” is the first thing you see when you walk into the barn and it is evident in everything they do. To learn more about Arethusa Farm and the owners, visit their fantastic  website!

Visiting Ocean View Genetics in Deerfield, Wisconsin was a special treat because the owner Daryl Nunes is originally from Ocean View Farm in Northern California. He and his wife Pam have taken his family’s California grown genetics and moved them to her home farm in Wisconsin. It’s a blending of the dairy states! To learn more about their story and their cattle, visit their website!

Dutch Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing, New York  embraces the public and takes the opportunity to host farm tours for school children. Their program even teaches lessons on the farm that are based on New York State Standards. It was refreshing talking to owner, Paul Chittenden about how he feels every dairy farmer should take it upon himself to educate others about dairy farming. His passion for the industry and doing what he can to make a difference in it is truly inspiring. See for yourself!

The Wolfe Family of Oval Top Holsteins in Richfield Springs, New York is the definition of a family dairy. Each member has their own role and they take it very seriously. Mrs. Wolfe greeted us in the barn with cookies and juice and pitchfork in hand! She was the picture of hospitality and hard work ethic.

In our dairy judging adventures, I learned more about what a good cow looks like and how to justify it. I learned the dairy industry has a bright future because of all of the amazing and passionate students I met from across the United States. I was able to see first-hand what I know to be true: dairy farming isn’t just milking cows; it’s about family, tradition, love for your cows and trying to make a difference in the industry, whether it be breeding the next top producing cow or educating our youth.

This experience has shown me how Cal Poly values their students’ passions and facilitates opportunities for them to grow. We are so fortunate to have had the chance to do what we love: judge cows and represent Cal Poly. We tried our very best!  We were 3rd at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts. At the All American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania we were 8th. And lastly at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, the super bowl of dairy judging, we were 9th out of 19 teams.

Win or lose, I am so grateful to have had this experience. I learned so much about the industry, how to be a better judge and how your passion can most certainly become your purpose in life. Thank you, Cal Poly, for the chance to have an education away from my education.

Until next time,


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