Recently, Midwest Dairy and South Dakota dairy farmer Michael Crinion served on a unique panel to hear and provide feedback to graduate students in livestock-related programs as they prepare for future careers. The Higher Education Challenge (HEC) – Communicating Agriculture Beyond Academia, includes students from Universities across the Midwest and beyond. The panel was created in response to what academia and the agriculture industry have identified as a void in graduate student and professional programs with interpersonal communication skills and practical experience engaging with consumers and the public.
Panelists, including many commodity leaders, heard presentations from students on animal welfare, research on projects geared towards identifying disease more precisely for enhanced animal care, and various housing arrangements for calves to provide the best outcomes for animals and the farmers caring for them.
Each student was asked to communicate their projects and work in a manner easily understood by laypeople so the message would positively resonate with consumers, demonstrating how farmers care for animals and the environment. Midwest Dairy consumer perception surveys have identified these two public perceptions as a high priority with consumers, and this project serves as an excellent example of how science-based information can be communicated effectively by upcoming professionals in the industry.