Category: dairyleaders

High School Junior Expands Dairy Knowledge Through Independent Study

As a junior at Cumberland Valley High School and the Cumberland County Teen Miss Agriculture USA, Amanda Hamilton is passionate about sharing the benefits of dairy with the community. Where did she discover her passion for dairy farming?

“My grandmother has a family farm, and my cousin has a dairy farm. We’re trying to keep the farm alive, and it’s really important within my family to buy milk with the PA Preferred® sticker on it,” she said.

To expand on her passion for dairy, Amanda recently made the decision to complete the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow (DLT) independent study program— a program designed specifically to prepare high school students to work in the dairy industry. Amanda completed all three units and took courses on dairy herd management and dairy business management.

“The DLT program has helped me be able to promote the dairy industry and support that a lot more now,” Amanda said. “I feel more educated about dairy, and I feel I can educate the public a lot more.”

Amanda and her agriculture teacher, Darla Romberger

One of the advantages of the program is the ability for students to complete units independently and work at their own pace. Amanda took approximately two weeks to work through the courses, completing two to three lessons each day. Thanks to the knowledge she gained through the independent study, Amanda has advanced academically in her extra-curricular activities.

“For me, it was really nice to have the independent time to do it. I would definitely recommend it to another student,” she shared. “I’m also on our Future Farmers of America (FFA) team that focuses on milk quality and products. The DLT units have educated me a lot for the FFA team in terms of understanding fat content in milk.”

When it comes to her family’s dairy farm—the farm that initially sparked her passion for the industry—Amanda says the DLT program gave her practical takeaways and knowledge she can apply if she chooses to get more involved on the farm in the future.

“My biggest takeaway from the DLT units was ultimately herd management. It made me feel like I have the knowledge to do hands-on things on the farm,” she said. “I don’t have to sit back and watch other people do it. That meant a lot to learn the herd management aspect and know what I need to do in case I want to have a dairy farm in the future.”

In addition to a potential career in dairy farming, Amanda is also interested in teaching. Darla Romberger, the agriculture teacher who introduced her to the DLT curriculum, is helping her explore the dairy industry and determine which career might be a good fit.

“I’d like to be an agriculture teacher. Miss Romberger has really inspired that in me. Being an agriculture teacher, I also feel like I’ll be able to do more with the dairy industry,” Amanda added.


Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow is a three-part model program managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania. The program offers classroom instruction, on-farm experiences and scholarship opportunities to prepare high school students for future careers in the dairy industry.

Learn more about how to get involved in the program.

High School Students Meet Berks County Dairy Farmers During Annual Farm Tour

2019 farm tour

On Friday, October 18, more than 60 high school students from six different high schools throughout Pennsylvania participated in the annual Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Farm Tour. This year’s farm tour took place in Berks County, where students received a firsthand look at three dairy farms with three very different business models. Students spent the day exploring the types of careers available in the dairy industry and talked to a wide range of professionals to learn about all facets of dairy production—from nutrition and herd health to robotic milking technology and food science.

“My favorite part of the farm tour was interacting with other students, getting to talk to the nutritionist, and learning about the health and environment of the dairy cows,” said Stephanie, a senior at Tulpehocken High School in Berks County.

The first stop on the tour was Vista Grande Farms in Fleetwood, Pa., a family-run business with 240 milking cows. High school students discovered how the farm transformed its operations with an updated robotic milking system and the construction of a brand new facility.

“The tour was really valuable to our students because it allowed them to take what we teach them in the classroom and actually see some of it in action here on the farms,” said Stephen Geib, an agriculture science teacher at Elizabethtown Area High School. “Videos and those sorts of things only provide so much insight, but actually being on the farm is a lot of fun for them. They get to interact with the farmers and get more personal answers to some of their questions.”

Way-Har Farm and Way-Har Farm Market in Bernville, Pa. was the next stop on the farm tour. As a wholesale business distributing to 40 restaurants, camps and small convenience stores, Way-Har sells ice cream, baked goods, candy and milk. During the tour, students received a behind-the-scenes look at the ice cream-making process and enjoyed lunch sponsored by Hydrite Chemical Co.

“We invest in any kind of dairy education because we all want safe food, and education is getting more and more expensive. If you have the ability to help students get further in dairy-related education, it helps everybody out,” said Greg Peterson, a regional manager at Hydrite.

The final stop on the Berks County tour was to Zahncroft Dairy in Womelsdorf, Pa.—a multi-generational farm with 240 milking cows and 270 acres. Students toured the farm’s modern facilities and learned about their new sand bed system and milking parlor.

“We believe that reaching out to the community and allowing them to be part of our farm is very important,” said Katie Sattazahn, owner of Zahncroft Dairy. “Education is the ideal way to reach out to the younger generation, who may be future dairy farmers or industry representatives, and allow them to see different aspects of the industry and multiple types of farms.”

The day-long experience gave students the opportunity to explore careers within the dairy industry and consider their roles as future consumers.

“A lot of our students are very far removed from farms. For them to actually be on the farm, see how farmers take great care of their animals, and learn where their food comes from, it’s a great way to have informed consumers for the future,” said Allyson Balmer, an agriculture teacher at Tulpehocken Area School District.

Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow is a program managed by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania, designed specifically to prepare high school students to work in the dairy industry. A three-part model program, Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow offers classroom instruction, on-farm experiences and scholarship opportunities to students across Pennsylvania.

Learn more about the program.

Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Curriculum Introduces High Schoolers to Animal Science

While the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum is centered around dairy, it often sparks connections with other animal science topics. At Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow reproductive anatomy lesson served as a relevant introduction for a pig dissection assignment.

While the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum is centered around dairy, it often sparks connections with other animal science topics. At Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow reproductive anatomy lesson served as a relevant introduction for a pig dissection assignment.

“We were going through the different systems of pigs, and I didn’t think the curriculum we were using did a good enough job of really showcasing the different parts of the reproductive tract,” said Darla Romberger, an agriculture teacher at Cumberland Valley High School. “I knew the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum had a really good reproductive lesson and visuals to go along with it. It was a nice connection, and it supplemented the curriculum really well for us.”

Romberger began by using the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow anatomy lesson to introduce her students to the different parts of a female cow’s reproductive system. For students with an interest in animal agriculture, this gave them a deeper understanding of how to manage herds and offspring.

“If students want to own animals, they need to understand the body systems of an animal in order to be good owners,” Romberger said. “If they eventually decide to be in a managerial position, they need to know the full reproductive cycle of what it takes to produce the next generation of offspring. That’s what a lot of animal agriculture is—managing offspring and animals as they age.”

After the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow introductory lesson, the high schoolers moved on to the hands-on part of the lesson: dissecting the pigs. By bridging the gap between different animals’ reproductive systems, Romberger was able to educate her students on the wide range of careers available in animal agriculture.

Romberger has been using the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program for seven years as a supplement to the curriculum she’s already using. The program’s flexibility and personalization has allowed her to meet the individual needs of her students.

“I like how the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum has the option of being utilized individually by students,” Romberger added. “I had an independent study student go through all three components last year at her own pace. I could track her progress and see how far she was getting. The flexibility was really key.”

Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow is a comprehensive program designed specifically to prepare high school students to pursue careers in the dairy industry. Using a three-part model, Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow offers classroom curriculum, on-farm experience opportunities as well as scholarships for both educators and students.

In 2019, 500 educators were enrolled in the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program and more than 19,500 students were impacted.

See how you can incorporate Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow into your classroom. Learn more.

High School Students Explore the Food Science Industry

The Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania and The Pennsylvania State University Food Science Department recently partnered to host the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Exploration Experience, which was an interactive workshop for high school s tudents who are interested in dairy and food science careers, at the Food Science buildings at University Park, Pa.

During the Exploration Experience workshop, a group of 11 students learned about all spectrums of food science. Through a sensory evaluation activity, students learned how to evaluate cheddar cheese for quality attributes such as appearance, aroma, flavor, body and texture. They also participated in a hands-on food processing activity where they learned how to make ice cream in Penn State’s Wet Pilot Plant.

“When I learned about the Exploration Experience, I knew it was a natural fit for [my student] who has an interest in food science,” said Sherisa Nailor, an agriculture teacher at Big Spring High School in Cumberland County. “I thought it would be a chance for her to see different aspects of the industry that she might not have thought about before. From a hands-on perspective, this experience was awesome.”

Students had the opportunity to tour the Berkey Creamery and Food Science Department and learned about summer work experiences, independent research, international experiences, and scholarship opportunities available through Penn State’s Food Science Department. They also discussed potential career paths and industries available within the food science field.

“One of our main focuses is building awareness about what food science is,” said Dr. Chris Sigler, assistant food science professor at The Pennsylvania State University. “In our department, students get a well-rounded background in chemistry, biology, and microbiology. We have world-class facilities, and it’s also a very small, family atmosphere. At the end of the day, we like to treat our students as individuals, not as statistics or faces in the crowd.”

The Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Exploration Experience was supported through the Dairy Excellence Foundation. The workshop was an extension of the Foundation’s Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program, which is designed for high school students who are interested in receiving hands-on experience and industry-based certifications in dairy.

“It’s one thing to get a tour of a facility or a lecture from a professor, but having the opportunity to taste and experience food science firsthand is what the Exploration Experiences are all about,” said Brittany Haag, Dairy Education Program Manager at the Center for Dairy Excellence. “These experiences give high school students a day to immerse themselves into their interested field of study and learn from world-class professionals about how to be successful in their desired careers.”

Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow is a three-part model program, offering classroom instruction, on-farm experiences and scholarship opportunities to high school students. The program also provides curriculum and industry certifications in dairy herd management and dairy business management.