U of I Dairy Courses Offer Opportunities

US - Solid academic research, real-world experiences, and interaction with dairy professionals are three reasons why Ernie Crouzer chose to obtain an accredited dairy certificate from the University of Illinois.
calendar icon 31 August 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

For Mr Crouzer, a procurement manager for Zinpro Corporation in Wisconsin, the opportunity to gain educational experiences based on what's really happening on a commercial dairy farm today was something he couldn't pass up.

Mr Crouzer and eight other students recently earned U of I Graduate School Accredited Dairy Certificates from the comfort of their homes across the world.

The 2009-2010 graduates include Crouzer, Elizabeth Amos of Colorado, Merrill Folsom of Georgia, John Warriner of Illinois, Carrie Bisnett of New York, Karissa Brobst of North Dakota, Kevin Baillie of Pennsylvania, Ed Simpson of Texas, and Glenn Buchner of Ontario, Canada.

Since this interactive online educational programme began eight years ago, dairy producers, agricultural education teachers, veterinarians, feed salesmen and others have challenged themselves to complete this certificate program to enhance their knowledge of the dairy industry.

Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist, said, "Students don't have to travel to campus to receive a quality educational experience anymore. This program offers tremendous flexibility and allows students to customize the program to fit their goals."

More than 400 students have participated in this program, Hutjens said. Most of the students are from the United States, but 11 per cent are international students.

"We've literally had babies (humans and calves) born during class," he said. "Because the lectures are on demand, students can 'go to class' when they have time. Each week, students are expected to listen to 1 ½ hours of course modules, participate in one live online class and perform a homework assignment. If students can't attend the live online class, they can simply go listen to it later. We recognise they have busy lives and demanding careers so we do our best to help them succeed."

This programme is unique because it offers both undergraduate and graduate credit, continuing credit for veterinarians, professional in-service training for feed industry representatives and cutting-edge information for dairy farm managers in their homes.

"U of I is the only school in the United States to offer an online dairy certificate programme like this," he said. "We recognised the emerging need to reach out to non-traditional students with diverse backgrounds, knowledge, experience and focus."

The programme consists of five classes including Principles of Dairy Science, Dairy Management, Dairy Nutrition, Dairy Reproduction, and Milk Quality and Mastitis. Mr Hutjens and Dick Wallace, retired U of I Extension dairy veterinarian, coordinate the classes that incorporate six faculty members from the U of I Department of Animal Sciences. Two courses are offered every semester. This fall, Dairy Reproduction begins September 9 and Dairy Management begins September 13.

More than 3,000 course CDs have been sold for the class and as an education resource for producers and veterinarians. For more information, visit http://online.ansci.illinois.edu/.

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