The Dairy Center Connection.

Hi, MariahBusta!

Last Friday night I experienced one of the most rewarding moments of my career as we hosted the Drive-Thru Santa on the Farm event at Iowa’s Dairy Center. This one-of-a-kind event brought together a few of my favorite things: cows, Christmas and making people smile. The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. Here are some of my favorite comments:

  • “A great event, thank you so much! I had two very happy little boys to see not only Santa but all the cows!” Kelsey W., Waukon
  • “The kids loved the Santa event last night! My son waved at the cows as we drove through and my daughter said the VR was ‘So cool!’ Thanks for your hard work!” -Kelly B., Protivin
  • “My daughter will be talking about the “Christmas Farm” for days! Thanks for this unique experience!” -Rebecca R., St. Lucas
  • “Mrs. Claus and I were thrilled to be a part of your wonderful event! I think a couple of the cows wanted to be part of my reindeer team? Merry Christmas to all!” -Santa C., North Pole

With the challenges related to COVID-19, this year has certainly been different. I’m thankful we found a safe way to bring joy during this holiday season! Perhaps we’ve started a new tradition?

From all of us at Iowa’s Dairy Center, we wish you a blessed holiday season and prosperous 2021.

Mariah Busta
Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Dairy & Agriculture Foundation

What's Happening at Iowa's Dairy Center

More Than 800 Enjoy Santa on the Farm at Iowa’s Dairy Center

More than 800 people enjoyed seeing Santa, Mrs. Claus and the cows at the Drive-Thru Santa on the Farm event held at Iowa’s Dairy Center last Friday evening, Dec. 18.  Visitors were able to drive through the farm’s freestall barn to see the milking cows and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus from their vehicles. The visit from Santa was complete with milk and cookies and each vehicle received a goody bag which included a virtual reality kit to tour the dairy farm, at-home educational dairy lessons and more. View photos.

Viewing Areas Open During the Holidays

Visitors are able to access the Parlor and Robotic Milking Viewing Areas at Iowa’s Dairy Center, during the holidays. After being closed for several months due to COVID-19, the viewing areas were reopened to the public earlier this fall. Visitors can stop by 24/7 to watch cows be milked. Learn more.

Registration Open for Spring A.I. Class

Mar. 9-11, 2021 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m. | Iowa’s Dairy Center

This is a three-day hands-on class for those who wish to artificially inseminate their own cattle or gain experience to work for others. The class will cover all aspects of bovine reproduction, from anatomy and hormones to heat detection. Students have actual insemination practice on cattle at Iowa's Dairy Center. The minimum age requirement for this class is 16. The class is taught by Select Sires.


Parlor Talk

Parlor Talk features bite-sized bits of news from the Northeast Iowa Dairy & Agriculture Foundation and Iowa’s Dairy Center. The monthly column is written by Dave Lawstuen, Agriculture Faculty at NICC and Chair of Iowa’s Dairy Center.

  • Congratulations to Farm Manager Gary Lien as he became a grandfather for the first time last week. Charlotte Jean, daughter of Mikayla and Ben, is doing well. Congratulations to the Lien family!
  • The Dairy Center’s cows Fern 2579 and Iowa 2607 have been named to Holstein Association USA’s locator list of the top 10,000 Holsteins in the United States.
  • The second lactation Holsteins at Iowa’s Dairy Center have a 32,139 ME, 1,255 F and 966 P.
  • Iowa’s Dairy Center’s top genetic heifer is 2923 Ida. She is a July 2020 Meridian daughter of one of our ET flush sisters, Idaho.
  • The snowless winter so far has allowed the farm management staff to completely empty the manure pits and ensure no spring application of manure in 2021.
  • Iowa’s Dairy Center is applying for an EQIP grant through NRCS for a mortality compost bay and a manure gravity flow system at the heifer barn.
  • The Beef Science students bred the beef cow herd and replacement heifers on Dec. 2 for fall calving.
  • The Dairy & Agriculture Foundation Operations Committee meets the fourth Wednesday evening of every month. Three alumni serve on that board: Nick Bohr, Ridgeway; Chris Gibbs, Waterville; and Andy Houdek, Caledonia, Minn.
  • Dairy Science alumni Justin Schafer of Cannon Falls, Minn., will be joining the Dairy Science Advisory committee in the spring. Justin and his family recently installed three DeLaval robots.
  • Dairy Science Alumni Shawn Johnson was featured in the Dairy Star’s My Side of the Fence column discussing his herd’s genetic selection program. 
  • Where are they now? Dairy Science alumni Gabe and Sharon Green Smith live with their daughter in Warsaw, N.Y. Gabe is a territory sales manager for Zoetis and Sharon is the lead seed purchasing agent for T&S Crop Services.


Dairy Science Students Wrap up Fall Semester

NICC Dairy Science students finished up the fall semester last week. Despite the pandemic, 100% of the hands-on labs were held face-to-face. Additionally, 100% of the fall students are registered and plan to return in the spring.

Dairy Science Alumni Invited to Connect on Facebook

Are you an NICC Dairy Science alum? Join the program’s alumni Facebook group! With almost 300 members so far, this group is designed to share updates and happenings in the Dairy Science program and a way to connect with peers. To join, visit Facebook and search “NICC Dairy Science Alumni” and click “Join Group.”

Agriculture and Animal Sciences Program Preview Scheduled for March

Friday, Mar. 5 | 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m. | Iowa’s Dairy Center

This program preview day is designed for students interested in programs in Agriculture and Animal Science fields at NICC. Faculty are proud to showcase our College, Iowa's Dairy Center with state of the art necropsy lab and expand your understanding of the programs, career opportunities and earning potential in each career field. The program preview option is similar to a regular visit day with the addition of being customized to provide in-depth information on a specific area of study. Learn more

Dairy Profile: Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson of Plainview, Minn. was recently awarded the Bruce Cottington Friend of Dairy Award from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Since beginning his role as a Farm Business Management Instructor at Riverland Community College, Tom has helped 110 farms develop records in order to make sound financial management decisions. Tom is currently working with the Northeast Iowa Dairy & Agriculture Foundation to dial in expenses and establish financial goals. Congratulations, Tom! Read more.

Industry News

I-29 Moo University Winter Virtual Workshop "NET ZERO: If it's Not Your Profitability, What is It?” Learn more.

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach dairy team will begin a quarterly dairy goat webinar starting Jan. 6, 2021, from Noon to 1:15 p.m. Learn more.

Virtual Boots in the Barn being offered for dairy women. Learn more.

View the presentations from the 2020 ISDA Annual Meeting. Watch.

Calendar of Events

Visit our website to see all upcoming events and continuing education courses.

Northeast Iowa Dairy & Agriculture Foundation Board Meeting
Jan. 22 | Noon-2 p.m. | Iowa's Dairy Center

Bovine Artificial Insemination Class
Mar. 9-11 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m. | Iowa’s Dairy Center


Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation 
1527 Hwy. 150 S., Calmar, Iowa
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