Ted Halbach Highlights Undergrad Program in Dairy Star’s College Survey

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Ted Halbach, faculty associate in dairy management

Dairy Star — College Survey (August 22, 2015 issue)

What are the dairy related majors your college offers? Which are the most popular?

We offer a degree in dairy science with specializations in pre-vet or research, agri-business, and dairy operation management. Our degree offers students enough flexibility to combine dairy science with another degree, where they can “double major” in areas such as agricultural and applied economics, biological systems engineering, genetics, life sciences communication, or agronomy.

What is the yearly tuition for someone to be enrolled in the dairy science program?

In-state tuition is $10,415 per year, Minnesota resident tuition is $13,382 per year and out-of-state tuition is $29,665 per year.

What types of scholarships are available?

Over $140,000 awarded by Dairy Science in for 2015-’16. Incoming Dairy Science freshmen scholarships ranged from $1,000 to $10,000. Students only have to complete one common application which can be found at scholarships.wisc.edu. The scholarship deadline is February 3, 2016. Campus-wide, over 60 percent of UW students receive financial aid.

How has your dairy science program evolved in the last 10 years?

As you would expect curriculum wise, undergraduates in dairy science at UW-Madison receive valuable learning experiences through core course work in the fields of animal genetics, lactation, reproduction, nutrition, and management. What’s different? We’ve expanded the number of high-impact learning opportunities our students receive such as practical (hands-on) active learning labs, undergraduate research, student jobs with our herd or research labs, and internships.  

I also have to mention our investment in new dairy facilities. On campus we have the recently renovated Dairy Cattle Center which is located one block away from the classrooms and laboratories of the department. This facility houses 84 milking cows in a tie-stall barn. With a teaching arena attached to the facility, dairy science undergraduates have hands on access to cows during all lab practical sessions. The facility also employs students, providing them with a convenient opportunity to gain practical experience and earn some income while attending classes. Also new during this time frame is the Emmons Blaine Dairy Cattle Research Center. We believe this is the premier dairy research and teaching facility in the United States. The dairy is located just 15 miles North of Madison in Arlington and houses 430 milking cows, 100 dry cows, and over 50 calves. Emmons Blaine is a state of the art sand bedded freestall dairy facility that was built in 2008. The facility allows for completion of pen based nutrition work, mammary and reproductive physiology research, calf growth studies, transition cow management projects, and individual animal intakes (via an Insentec research pen).

Where have your dairy students gone after graduation?

A broad estimate of placement would be 30 percent to graduate or professional school, 40 percent to industry (e.g. technical support, sales) and 30 percent to farm management/ownership. Specific career opportunities our graduates are finding employment in are: veterinary medicine; animal nutrition and consulting; livestock reproduction; dairy genetics and breed associations; dairy herd management; laboratory research; information technology; agricultural extension; sales, marketing and international business; and agricultural communications. I would also add that we have more demand for graduates than students to fill the available positions.

In your opinion what makes your university stand out in matters of their dairy science program?

There are some significant points that differentiate UW-Madison from other dairy programs. First and foremost is location, location, location with UW-Madison being at the epicenter of “America’s Dairyland.” UW’s proximity to dairy farms, agribusinesses, and events—such as World Dairy Expo, held in Madison—provides dairy science undergraduates with unique networking experiences and valuable hands-on learning unlike any other. Another key point are the facilities I mentioned earlier, the recently renovated campus Dairy Cattle Center is located within one block of dairy classroom buildings, providing access to cows during all lab sessions. The reputation of a university is important as it adds value to your degree and UW again receives high marks being ranked in the top five among U.S research universities by the National Science Foundation. Further enhancing our students’ experience are UW-Madison’s Big 10 benefits that complement the small-school atmosphere found in our College and department (we have approximately 80 undergraduates). Finally, what really makes for a great college experience are the people. Your learning at UW would be guided by faculty and staff who are nationally recognized specialists in nutrition, genetics, lactation, reproduction and dairy herd management. The majority of our instructors also are involved with extension and ongoing research projects, keeping them up-to-date on new breakthroughs and industry issues. New knowledge from research laboratories reaches the classroom long before it is printed in scientific journals. Besides teaching in the classroom, our faculty serve as academic advisors. In this critical role, faculty members are vested in each student’s success, mentoring both their academic progress and career interest.