Milking it for all it’s worth

CAFNR is training tomorrow's leaders in the dairy industry

Dairy science is making a comeback in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The College’s Food Science program has seen an influx of students, and many are interested in careers in the dairy industry. In addition, the College is in the process of hiring a new faculty member with an emphasis in dairy foods that has resulted from a push for support for the dairy program despite an economic downturn for the dairy industry.

Many factors have contributed to this increase in interest in dairy in the College. A 1963 CAFNR graduate, Ted Jacoby, CEO of T.C. Jacoby & Co., BS in Ag in 1963, contributed funds to establish the T.C. Jacoby & Co. Scholarship, which funds the Dairy Industry Scholars program.

The program complements the College’s John Brown Scholars program. Each year, four students interested in dairy are selected to take part in a four-day internship with the company. During their time at the company, they get to see firsthand what careers exist in the dairy industry. Students travel to the Chicago Board of Trade and Twin Oaks Dairy in Indiana in addition to their time in St. Louis as part of the experience. The Dairy Industry Scholars also receive a scholarship to offset their costs of education.

Another factor that contributes to increased dairy science interest is the continued support provided by the MO Dairy Products Association (MDPA). MDPA provides annual support for MU’s dairy products judging team, and recently provided funds to permanently endow a scholarship named for Don Kullmann, which is awarded to a CAFNR student interested in dairy. A portion of the funds for this scholarship were provided by Lighthouse Plastics who donates funds based on the number of milk crates purchased by MDPA members. Members, like Lighthouse Plastics, of MDPA are very supportive of the education of students that will add value to their industry following graduation.

Much of the rich dairy history at Mizzou stems from almost 50 years of a competing dairy products evaluation team. Each year the team attends competitions throughout North America to compete against teams from around the world to detect defects in six dairy products – milk, cheddar cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream. The defects, depending on the product, concern appearance, texture and flavor.

The team has been so popular with students that the department created a new course based on the team’s training open to all students. Richard Linhardt, coaches the team and teaches the course and said that the students work hard, do well, and learn much about dairy.

“We often practice four to five days a week for two months leading up to the competition,” he said. “Not only do the students learn to identify the defects, they also learn the causes, solutions, remedies and ways to avoid them.”

Since competitions can be a long distance from Columbia, the team is in need of funds to support their progress at competitions.

“The cost to run the team is fairly expensive and varies on the contest location,” Linhardt said. “We must pay for transportation, food and lodging for two to three days for each team member. Plus, the dairy product samples for practices are pricey.”

Ingolf Gruen, Ph.D., associate professor and undergraduate advisor chair, said that the dairy industry is a large, important industry in the state of Missouri and that the scholarships impact the students directly.

“This support has helped students defray some of their educational costs,” he said. “In addition, knowing that support came from the dairy industry has probably increased their interest in the dairy industry. Some of the past scholarship recipients even work in the dairy industry now.”

Come learn firsthand about the developments in the College’s dairy program during the 20th Anniversary of Buck’s Ice Cream Place on Oct. 15, 2009.