Power of place

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April 23, 2019
Dairy students want the best and they’re finding it at Lakeland
Lakeland College students delve into what it takes to lead in the dairy industry. As the second dairy Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF) unit to ever learn and work in Lakeland’s new Dairy Learning Centre, these animal science technology students agree their education is exceeding their expectations.

“Lakeland is renowned across Canada as one of the best schools for agriculture,” says Ron Eggenberger, who hails from a purebred sheep operation near Kleefeld, Man., and is the dairy SMF unit’s calf manager. “It’s completely different here with the new Dairy Learning Centre and everything else on the Student-Managed Farm – you don’t get anything like this anywhere else. One of the big advantages that we have here is that the technology is phenomenal.”
Opened in 2017, the Dairy Learning Centre features state-of-the-art-technology in robotic and conventional milking and feeding systems that allows students to explore both styles of production. “With all of the technology here you really get a sense of what is currently in industry,” says Jodie Stoker, the dairy SMF unit’s genetics manager from Deroche, B.C.
The facility also features a Lely Vector automatic feeding system, three group-house calf rooms – two of which use automatic milk feeding systems – and dairy management software, including DeLaval’s Herd Navigator that tests progesterone levels in milk and monitors lactate dehydrogenase.
“The Herd Navigator gives us a lot of information. For instance, it notifies you that the cow has a health issue before they even show physical signs of it,” says Jonathan Lange, the dairy SMF unit leader who came to Lakeland from Dufresene, Man. 

With guidance from faculty and farm staff, the dairy SMF unit manages 120 lactating cows, which are part of a 290-head herd. Students are involved with managing heifers, herd health visits with the vet, milking, nutritional consultant visits, sustainability management, genetic selection, hoof trimming and more. 

“You get to work with the animals a lot, but the biggest advantage about this program is that it helps build your confidence, which is really important as a producer,” says Lange.

Improving genetics

The unit is making great strides in achieving their goal to improve the production, health and longevity of the herd through genetic advancements by using the technologies available in the Dairy Learning Centre. Elevate, a new genomic testing system that provides DNA test results from tissue samples, allows the students to see the genetic ranking of each cow in the herd.

“There are so many tiny details that you could miss that might bring a lot of dollars back to your business and operation – I’m really learning the complexity of dairy farming here,” says Jordan Bruins, the unit’s public relations manager. His family farm is near Tees, Alta.

The dairy SMF unit also made a significant purchase this year to improve the herd’s genetics: Chubanna Armani Marawa. Purchased from a Lakeland alumnus, Andrew Wildeboer, Class of 2001 herd health technology, the cow comes from Chubanna Holsteins. To initiate this purchase, the unit put together a proposal for the dean of agricultural sciences to approve that covered profit margins, expenditures such as transportation and feed costs, potential risks and more. 

“It really makes you think about what goes into making a smart decision when purchasing an animal and by purchasing this cow, we can quickly improve the genetics of our herd,” says Stoker.

Team work

With 11 students from across Canada on the dairy SMF unit this year, learning to effectively work and communicate as a team has been a key lesson for the unit.

“I think we’re all working well together to do new and innovative things on the farm to enhance operations. It definitely prepares you for real life,” says Nicki Meier, the dairy SMF unit’s nutrition manager whose family has a dairy farm near Abbotsford, B.C.

While the opportunity to make six-figure decisions with Lakeland’s award-winning experiential learning model is the main draw for most, the dairy SMF unit praises the college’s comprehensive classroom experience too. “They have some of the best advisors and instructors here, and great curriculum where you are learning a lot of in-depth information,” says Meier.

Lakeland proud

Beyond gaining valuable experience in the Dairy Learning Centre, members of the dairy SMF unit are finding themselves serving as ambassadors for Lakeland and it’s a role they’ve taken on with pride.

“When I was wearing my Lakeland jacket back in B.C., people recognized that I was from Lakeland,” says Stoker, noting other students were recognized in Manitoba and elsewhere too. “People are always really interested in what we do. It gives us an opportunity to not only promote the college, but agriculture and its advancements in technology today.”

Lakeland dairy fast facts:

  • 38 litres is the average herd milk production per cow per day
  • Two-day production exceeded 9,000 litres in fall 2018
  • Lakeland had its first classified excellent cow in 2018: EX 90 – Vermilion Lauthority Adriana
  • Recipient of eight Milk Quality Awards from Alberta Milk
Photos: From the top, there are students from across Canada on this year's dairy SMF unit; (from the left) Jonathan Lange, dairy SMF unit leader, Nicki Meier, dairy SMF unit nutrition manager, and Jordan Bruins, dairy SMF unit public relations manager, check out feed distributed by the the Lely Vector automatic feeder; Jodie Stoker, dairy SMF unit genetics manager, examines a tissue sample that will be processed through Elevate to determine a calf’s genetic ranking; members of the dairy SMF unit monitor the DeLaval Automated Milking System (robotic parlour); and Lange (left) and Andy Borstlap (right), the dairy SMF unit heifer/transition manager, proudly pose with Chubanna Armani Marawa.
What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
Choosing to attend Lakeland College was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life so far. The welcoming and friendly Lakeland environment encourages a place of excellence, and fosters the ability to be successful not only in school, but in life.

– Mariah Van’t Hof

University Transfer, Class of 2015

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience

What Alumni Say
The hands-on field trips, quality of education i received, professors who are invested in your success, and all the friends I made. I exceeded my academic expectations and I also had a lot of fun. If i had to do it all over gain, i would choose Lakeland!

– Nicole (Audet) Pysh

Class of 2006, Environmental Protection & Class of 2008, Applied Environmental Degree