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03:48AM Aug 20, 2014

Expo’s Seminars and Virtual Farm Tours provide learning opportunities galore

In the dairy business, there is no such thing as having too much information. That’s why providing opportunities for dairy producers to secure the knowledge they need to run their businesses more efficiently and profitably is central to the mission of World Dairy Expo (WDE).

The popular Expo Seminar program is one example of WDE’s commitment to providing educational opportunities for dairy producers and industry professionals. Offered throughout the week, the seminars feature top-flight industry experts speaking on a wide range of cutting edge topics. The 45-minute long sessions are designed to leave ample time for asking questions and interacting with the speakers.

World Dairy Expo

The job of recommending and selecting seminar topics each year falls to an advisory committee made up of a broad cross-section of dairy producers along with agribusiness representatives and Extension personnel. "The committee is pretty diverse and really covers all the different aspects of the dairy industry," says Peg Reedy, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agricultural agent who has served on the committee for five years.

The 12-person committee meets once a year, usually in January, to discuss and vote on potential topics and recommend speakers. Many of the suggestions for topics originate during conversations committee members have with dairy producers and other knowledgeable industry sources during the course of the year.

"I’m always keeping the program in mind when I’m talking to producer customers and fellow staff at our company," says Randy Greenfield, a dairy specialist with Wisconsin-based Vita-Plus. "By the time the meeting rolls around, I usually have a pretty long list of things dairy producers would like to hear more about in the seminars."

Narrowing down the list of seminar topics to eight each year is the toughest challenge for many committee members. "Every year, when it’s time to vote, I find myself thinking that just about every topic that’s brought up in the meeting would make for a good seminar," Reedy says. "Usually it comes down to deciding what topics are going to appeal to the broadest possible audience. There are some traditional topic areas such as nutrition, breeding and genetics, calf-rearing and dry cow management that always seem to find their way on to the list. But we also try to work in topics that are new and trending. Examples from recent years would include employee management and using social media."

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Attendees can learn new production ideas from fellow dairy producers during the Virtual Farm Tours held during Expo.

A look inside. Originally implemented at WDE, the Virtual Farm Tour program is another format WDE utilizes to help dairy producers stay up-to-speed on the latest developments in their industry. The eight virtual tours that are offered every year feature multimedia presentations showcasing some of the most successful and innovative dairies in North America. Owners and managers are also on hand to answer questions and offer additional insights.

"It’s a peer-to-peer education concept," says Liz Matzke, WDE marketing manager. "Our goal is to provide dairy producers with an opportunity to learn from other producers about what’s working and what isn’t in their operations without ever leaving the grounds while they’re at Expo."

Recommendations for operations to be featured in the farm tour program come from a variety of sources.

"What we’re always looking for is the new and the different," says Matzke, adding that the committee tries to include a variety of dairy sizes, types of dairies and geographical locations in its final selections.

"But because the dairy industry is so dynamic and dairy producers are so innovative, we always seem to have more qualified applicants than slots to fill in the program. It makes for some very difficult choices every year," she says.

See the line-up for this year’s
Expo Seminar program and Virtual Farm Tours.

All sessions will be available for viewing after their presentations at

CEU’s Offered To Seminar Attendees

The American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards’ Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) offer continuing education units to members who attend the World Dairy Expo seminars.