LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – It’s National Milk Day and New Mexico State University is providing dairy knowledge to students in the borderland with a program since 2005.
The Extension Dairy Program is an Animal Science Curriculum that students can take as a minor. They can also join a six-week course during the summer at a dairy farm in Colvis, New Mexico.
Extension Dairy Specialist with New Mexico State University Robert Hagevoort says this course can benefit those who want to go to vet school, become farmers, or work in the dairy industry.
“We also do a lot of workforce development, that’s the other part, in terms of education. We work with the employees that we have, that are typically foreign-born workers. So, we do a lot of work with the workforce in order to teach and train them on what it is to work with cows. Make them understand cow behavior and well-being,” Hagevoort said.
Hagevoort adds students can learn about the industry, business and how dairy is produced around the world. He says depending on the management system, cows are milked 2 to 3 times a day.
“The milk is collected into a tank and then it’s transported to a fluid plant, which will be the milk that you buy at the store or a cheese plant or maybe a butter plant. So, the milk when it arrives at the plant is being pasteurized before it’s processed. So, it’s being pasteurized for fluid milk or pasteurized for cheese or butter production.”
Since the start of the Dairy Consortium, which is a collaboration of Texas A&M University, NMSU and University of Arizona, several programs in the Southwest are now offering dairy classes.
Although there is no way to produce milk straight from a cow on campus, dairy farms have opened their doors to students in the borderland.
“And that’s not a very good profitable proposition and I don’t think we are ever going to have a dairy back on campus,” said Hagevoort
With the cheese plant being the largest plant in Colvis, New Mexico along with its dairy and butter plants, more than 600 students have graduated from the program and are now working across the nation in the dairy industry.
“But the producers said, why have cows on campus if you can use my dairy as a classroom, you can bring out the students and you can bring out the faculty and you can talk about nutrition or you can talk about health care or talk about human resource management and use my dairy as a classroom as a laboratory, you know as the real deal.”
With almond milk and oat milk becoming so popular now, Hagevoort says people still consider regular milk especially when cooking.
“Health advice, even at the national level, is starting to point back and say, you know there is place for dairy, there is a very good place for dairy in our diet. We are starting to see that, we are starting to see a lot of people coming back to dairy,” said Hagevoort.
Milk is very nutritious for growing children, pregnant woman and the elderly.
To learn more and how to enroll for the Extension Dairy Program click here.