Center of Excellence focuses on dairy education

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Four veterinary colleges will collaborate to develop and implement the National Center of Excellence in Dairy Production Medicine Education for Veterinarians. It was announced Oct. 4 that the veterinary colleges at the University of Georgia, University of Illinois, Kansas State University, and University of Minnesota received a grant for $700,000 from the Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture for the project.

The grant is part of the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program, which makes awards on the basis of how well programs address local, regional, national, or international educational needs; whether they involve nontraditional or creative approaches that can serve as a model; and whether they encourage cooperation among universities and between academia and private business.

The Dairy Education Center, based in New Sweden, Minn., will serve as the primary location for the center of excellence's operations. Veterinary students from all four universities will live at the center during four two-week clinical rotations that focus on dairy health management, production systems, food safety, and food system security.

UMN's Dairy Education Center
The University of Minnesota's Dairy Education Center serves as a birthing center for more than 6,000 calves each year and milks 3,000 cows daily. The facility has dormitory facilities, classrooms, and teaching laboratories that will be used as part of the National Center of Excellence in Dairy Production Medicine Education for Veterinarians. (Courtesy of University of Minnesota CVM)

Further, through an affiliation with Davis Family Dairies and its sister company, Davisco Foods International, UMN has access to two state-of-the-art private dairy facilities with a total of 7,000 milk cows. Davis Family Dairies owns and operates the facilities, while Minnesota's veterinary college provides health care to the herds.

"This project offers veterinary students interested in serving the dairy food system a unique opportunity for advanced training in a new and more cost-effective way," said Dr. Trevor R. Ames, UMN's veterinary dean, in a UMN press release. "Students trained in the program will graduate with significantly enhanced skills in dairy veterinary medicine, which will enrich their ability to serve dairy clients and succeed as dairy food system veterinarians. In turn, society will ultimately benefit as these highly trained specialists better protect and serve the national and global food systems. Moving forward, such Centers of Excellence may become the principal way veterinary colleges address educational needs of students who will serve food production systems."