Collegiate dairy products judges recognized with national awards

Farm Forum

For the seventh year in a row, the South Dakota State University Dairy Products Judging Team placed first in the 2014 Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest, held Nov. 8 at Northern Illinois University in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

“These students are dedicated and take judging seriously. They spend a year practicing before they qualify for the official judging team,” said coach Lloyd Metzger, Professor of Dairy Science and Alfred Chair in Dairy Education. “Industry recognizes the ability to evaluate product as a valuable skill, so students who excel as judges use this on their resume.”

In Dairy Products Judging, students evaluate the appearance, texture, and flavor of six dairy products: milk, butter, Cheddar cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese. “This training is important for students in dairy science because it allows them to determine if products have quality defects,” Metzger said.

He added that members of the judging team often obtain a position in quality control or manufacturing and they use their products judging skill to identify issues and improve the quality of dairy products.

SDSU has competed at this national contest for the last 93 years and won this national championship 22 times.

SDSU team members were Rachel Achen, Warner, S.D.; Rachel Johnson, Russel, Minn.; Natasha Laska, Norfolk, Neb.; and Somil Gupta, Panipat, India. Along with Metzger the team is also coached by Lee Alexander, SDSU graduate student.

The team placed first in butter and ice cream, second in Cheddar cheese, third in yogurt and cottage cheese, and fourth in milk. A total of 44 undergraduate and graduate contestants from 12 universities in the U.S. and Canada participated in the contest.

Achen placed fifth overall, first in butter and third in ice cream and Cheddar cheese. As the top judge in butter, Achen received the Bert Aldrich Award. Laska placed fourth overall, second in butter and fourth in yogurt. Johnson was third overall, second in ice cream and milk, and fourth in butter. In the graduate student contest, Somil placed sixth overall and was third in milk and butter.

For placing first overall, the SDSU team won the Shirley Seas Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is in memory of Shirley Seas, who coached the SDSU team for 21 years. Metzger also received the Aurelia and George Weigold Coach of the Year Award.

The contest was hosted by the dairy ingredient supplier company Tate and Lyle was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and more than 25 dairy associations, companies and suppliers.