Thanks to hard work, coaching and support from alumni and businesses, three UW-Platteville collegiate crops team members competed in the Australian Collegiate Crops Contest recently.
Joel Dieckhoff, a soil and crop science major from Brodhead; Emily Hefty, a soil and crop science major from Mount Horeb; and Katelynn Mauk, a soil and crop science/environmental science double major from Sheboygan, traveled to Australia from Sept. 21-Oct. 2.
The students won their spot on the U.S. team because of their high individual placement in the 2015 national contests sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science of America.
The UW-Platteville crops team placed second in the 2015 National ASA contests in Kansas City, Mo., and the three students placed among the top six individuals in that competition. The UW-Platteville students placed ninth at the Australian competition, which was held Sept. 28-30.
Ozzie Abaye from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., was the team’s coach in Australia. On the UW-Platteville campus, Roger Higgs, professor emeritus, serves as the team’s coach.
The students visited a variety of Australian agricultural sites including an irrigated rice farm, the Yanco Agricultural Institute, the Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative, a grain terminal, a cattle feedlot, and several farms with mixed cropping and livestock production systems, among others.
“I was so excited that our tour focused on the agriculture side of Australia,” Hefty said. “We were only in the city for one day. I enjoyed the aspect of enjoying the culture and visiting actual farmers.”
“We visited a dairy farm and I was able to talk to the producer there,” Dieckhoff said. “I come from a dairy farm so we were able to talk shop. We bounced ideas off each other. Even though it was a different culture and different nuances there was that connection with agriculture.”
“We went to Hart Brothers Seed Co.,” Mauk said. “That was my favorite tour. During the summer I had an internship at a seed production company in Livingston. Getting to compare what I was doing in the United States to what they are doing was very rewarding.”
Having the opportunity to travel internationally and interact with their peers was an experience the students will not soon forget.
“This was really eye-opening,” Hefty said. “My perspective of the world outside of the United States was very different. One of the most exciting things is that I saw how similar it was.”
“I would like to make more connections with people from other countries because I felt it was really valuable and this trip opened my eyes to that,” Dieckhoff said. “There are definitely opportunities out there. You just have to take them.”
“I would definitely consider a career that offers traveling outside of the country,” Mauk said. “That’s something I want to look for now.”
“I’m so happy for them,” Higgs said. “I think it’s an invaluable experience.”
Major sponsors of the UW-Platteville team include the American Society of Agronomy, UW-Platteville soils and crops alumni (UW-Platteville Foundation), Dr. Milton Engelke, Hartung Farms and CHS Foundation. The trip was also funded in part by the Glenn Webb Education Fund/The Growmark Foundation.