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4-H Ontario Dairy Sen$e® Conference Impacting Youth in Dairy Industry

(Posted January 6, 2017)


4-H Ontario Dairy Sen$e® Conference Impacting Youth in Dairy Industry

Rockwood, Ontario (January 9, 2017) — Since 2010 4-H Ontario, along with co-manager the Ontario Holstein Branch, have been providing this annual conference for young dairy enthusiasts to assist in gaining insight and knowledge into the dairy industry. Recently, 4-H Ontario tendered and selected C. Lang Consulting to conduct a research study on the impact the Dairy Sen$e conference is having on participants. Conclusions from the research show overwhelming positive feedback on the impact of the knowledge gained from the conference. 

The Dairy Sen$e conference features a combination of industry professional speakers and workshops, as well as farm tours and hands-on learning using detailed case studies. During the three-day conference, participants between the ages of 18-25 are provided timely, sector-specific, practical information that can be used in their agricultural careers.

Research was conducted through evaluations with 39 past participants from the previous five years via targeted online surveys and telephone interviews.

The Dairy Sen$e conference has been successful in impacting both 4-H members and non-members alike. Though many of the research participants had been longstanding 4-H members, 67% attended the conference as non-members.

Dairy Sen$e attendees reported improved skills both on and off the farm.

“My husband and I became shareholders in our newly formed farm corporation in 2014. Our collective ability to demonstrate proficiency in all areas of farm management has significantly accelerated the adoption of a working succession plan,” replied a 2011 conference participant.

“Things I learned at Dairy Sen$e I am using almost every day at work. I work at a livestock feed and supply store in Northern Ontario,” replied a 2015 attendee.

Key statistics from research findings included:

97% - indicated that they either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “The conference opened up other beneficial networking opportunities.”
97% - reported either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, “The Dairy Sen$e conference allowed me to network with industry leaders relevant to my interests.”
94% - indicated that they either agreed or strongly agreed that, “At the Dairy Sen$e conference I had the opportunity to network with peers.”

Networking with both peers and industry leaders alike was one of the big takeaways participants spoke of. The opportunity to network has benefitted attendees in getting jobs, taking on leadership roles in the community, managing family farm businesses, dealing with personal and farm finances, engaging in local agricultural committees and pursuing further education or training. In fact, almost half of all respondents said they have followed up with contacts made through Dairy Sen$e.

Specific examples of these networking opportunities in action saw one participant visit a peer’s farm to learn about a new robotic milking facility, as well as another who became involved with the Holstein committee.

“I attended two years of the program and I still use the industry contacts I made,” added one attendee of the 2013 Dairy Sen$e conference.

In addition to making peer and industry connections, research participants reported improvement in developing numerous professional and personal skills.

Top 3 Industry Specific Professional Skills

  • Dairy farm management
  • Financial Planning
  • Dairy Nutrition

Top 3 Personal Skills

  • Presentation skills/public speaking
  • Teamwork skills
  • Strategic thinking

In addition to creating industry contacts and numerous learning and growth opportunities, research shows that Dairy Sen$e also promotes community engagement. Participants have sat on the New Liskeard Fall Fair board, attended the Lambton Federation Agriculture Board as a delegate and have become involved as a director and leader of their local 4-H Association after participating in Dairy Sen$e.

“It inspired me to pursue more industry-targeted learning opportunities rather than youth targeted events,” replied a 2011 attendee.

The Dairy Sen$e conference has proven to be a great opportunity to develop the personal skills of attendees, as well as to broaden their knowledge and contacts in the dairy industry. It has also helped to create engaged community members.

The 2017 Dairy Sen$e conference is quickly approaching and aims to continue to provide these opportunities for youth currently in, or thinking of, a career in the dairy industry.


2017 Dairy Sen$e conference

Date: May 4-6, 2017
Location: University of Guelph, Guelph
Registration Fee: $175 +hst ($197.75)
Register By: March 31, 2017
More info: 4-HOntario.ca/Dairy-Sense

*4-H Ontario is also proud to announce the inaugural Poultry Sen$e conference in 2017, preparing participants for a career in the poultry industry. More info to come!


About 4-H Ontario

4-H Ontario is a non-profit positive youth development organization that builds youth as leaders within their communities and assets to the world. With roots in rural Ontario, today it is open to youth of all backgrounds across the province. 4-H youth ages 6–21 and screened, engaged volunteer leaders come together to learn about selected topics through fun hands-on activities and mentorship. There are also provincial camps, conferences, competitions and national and international travel opportunities available to further develop skills in leadership, business, self-confidence and more. 4-H provides youth with a place they can be involved, accepted, valued and heard while developing valuable skills for leadership and life.




Ryan Métivier, Coordinator, Communications, 4-H Ontario

Tel: 519.856.0992 x465


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