I received this article and was deeply saddened to hear that this great program, a one year herdsman course is coming to an end. This was a great tool for students who wished to stay working on the family farm but did not want to have to go to school for four years. It gave them a hands on education. It was a great way to experience modern dairy practices and take that back to the family farm.
My dear friend Dr Laura C. from Sao Paulo Brazil sent her two nephews to this program in the late 80’s. She wanted them to apply it back to their family dairy back in Brazil. On their break they would come to stay with me in California. What they learned in that program was applied directly upon returning to their farms. They then continued on to University in Brazil. They are grown men with there own families. They are still active on the farm and have made it very successful. They had great praises for this program. It is sad to see it go.
I am sending my heartfelt gratitude to the many fine dairy educators that had made this program such a great success over the years.
USU to discontinue dairy herdsman program By Kevin Opsahl The Herald Journal |
Due to low student enrollment and a growing decline of family run dairy farms, the Utah State University Board of Trustees voted Friday to discontinue the dairy herdsman program, a longtime staple at the College of Agriculture.
Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond Coward told the trustees that the discontinuation of the program would also take a financial burden off of USU.
The trustees’ vote will be forwarded to the Board of Regents for final approval.
The DHP, offered by the animal, dairy and veterinary science department, was unique in that it was a one-year, two-semester course. The program was taught through lectures, on-the-farm-experience and laboratory exercises by Justin Jenson, dairy herdsman program coordinator and dairy youth specialist at the USU Caine Dairy Center.
For many years, the dairy herdsman program was jointly administered with Bridgerland Applied Technical College until the technical college began experiencing budget problems in 2002. To remain financially solvent, the department came up with a plan that meant at least 21 students would have to be enrolled to stay afloat.
Over time, enrollment in DHP dwindled down to 12 students per year, calculated over a 10-year period from 2000-10, according to the trustee’s agenda.
And, according to ADVS Associate Department Head Tom Bunch, over the last five years the DHP had only eight students per year, averaging with only four in-state residents.
Bunch told the Board of Trustees on Friday that family-run dairy farms started to decline in the early 1990s, and today there are 70 percent fewer family-run farms than there were at the start of that decade – and most students who came into the program were from small farms.
“The small dairies have dwindled and bigger dairies have increased,” Bunch said at the meeting.
The herdsman program goes back to at least the early days of the USU Caine Dairy Center in the 1980s. There were between 40 and 49 students during the program’s peak enrollment.
“This program was a certificate program,” said Noelle Cockett, dean of the College of Agriculture. “These are the people that are out there at 4 a.m. feeding the cows … there’s just not an interest (for them) to go to Utah State for nine months … I’m heavy-hearted about this, but like Provost Coward said, we need to realize where we are at.”
Kenneth White, head of the department of ADVS, told The Herald Journal that the most popular way to train potential dairy herders is for local farmers to hire them and train them themselves through manual labor.
He said they would not like to see the program go in the state’s only agricultural college, but it will give them a chance to focus on other fields in the department that are growing.
Among them is the pre-veterinary program – which already produces the most graduates of that type in Utah – and the animal biotech and equine programs.
“It’s sad when you have to close one era, (but) we’re just trying to address the needs of the clientele and adjust with the times,” White told The Herald Journal. “We have to be able consolidate resources and use to the maximum ability to meet student needs and demands.”