Cal Poly Students on Winning Teams at the Western Regional Dairy Challenge Competition

For Immediate Release
March 10, 2017

Contact: AnnMarie Cornejo

Cal Poly dairy science students were among the top contenders at the recent Western Regional Dairy Challenge Competition in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Fifteen students from the upper-level Dairy Farm Consultation course traveled to the University of Idaho from Feb. 23-25 to compete in the challenge, coached by Animal Science professors Rich Silacci, Julie Huzzey and David Vagnoni.

Participants, working on five-person teams with students from other universities, assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students from Utah, Idaho, Washington and Alberta, Canada, also competed.

The Western Dairy Challenge is a three-day educational competition designed to prepare students for dairy careers. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges. Teams were ranked on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ evaluations of the dairy operation.

Three Cal Poly senior dairy science majors received first place: Frankie Gambonini of Petaluma, Camryn Spencer of Arroyo Grande, and Marilyn Van Beek of San Luis Obispo.

Six students received second place: senior agricultural science major Miranda McCurry of Elk Grove, and senior dairy science majors Tracy Nelson of Glendora, Emily Butner of San Marcos, Elizabeth Russell of Stanwood, Washington; Katie Migliazzo of Atwater; and Emma Sills of Tulare.

A Cal Poly team will travel to the 2017 National Dairy Challenge Competition in Visalia, California, from March 30 to April 1 to represent the university in the national contest. At the national competition, each college will have a four-person team compete head-to-head. It is anticipated that 32 colleges from across the nation will compete. Cal Poly students Gambonini, Migliazzo, Van Beek and senior dairy science major Bryson Wind of Bakersfield will represent the university. 

About the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge
The Western Dairy Challenge is under the guidance and support of the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, established in April 2002 as a management contest to incorporate evaluation of all aspects of a specific dairy business. For more information, visit

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including ranch land, orchards, vineyards and forests, all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country, with 4,000 undergraduate students.

The Cal Poly team that attended the Western Regional Dairy Challenge in Twin Falls, Idaho. Pictured from left to right in the front row: Emma Sills, Marlena Wagner, Elizabeth Russell, Alanna Smith, Katie Migliazzo, Frankie Gambonini, Annalicia Luis, Miranda McCurry and Professor Julie Huzzey. In the back row, from left to right: Professor Rich Silacci, Jay TeVelde, Darby Toth, Emily Butner, Tracy Nelson, Marilyn Van Beek, and Bryson Wind.

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