Dairy farm modernization and expansion has flourished in Outagamie County, with a growing demand for skilled workers to help milk and care for the 38,000+ dairy cows. Outagamie is one of the leading milk producing counties in the US, and a key component of the local, regional and statewide economy. In response, Zen helped lead a statewide Extension Dairy Team workgroup to create and teach a series of six award winning Dairy Workers’ Training modules for farm employees in Outagamie County and across the state. A detailed curriculum with separate print materials (3-ring binders) and audio/visuals (DVD) were developed for each module, including: Milking Skills; Reproduction; Calf Care; Fresh Cow Exams; Assisted Calving, and Cattle Handling/Skid Steer Operation/Safety. Moreover, each module contains both English and Spanish versions to help reach Hispanic workers who are now often employed on modern dairy farms.
Zen also helped create a partnership with the Babcock Institute at UW-Madison to produce and distribute each bi-lingual unit (http://babcock.cals.wisc.edu/). In addition, Extension Dairy Worker Training modules are now part of the Extension Dairy Team exhibit at World Dairy Expo each fall and have also been promoted and used by dairy industry leaders like Hoards Dairyman, WI Professional Dairy Producers Association and other private dairy industry companies.
Thus far, more than 1200 modules have been sold world-wide with proceeds used to help produce and distribute additional units (Dairy Feeder Training currently under production). Zen’s leadership and contributions to the Dairy Workers’ Training initiative have also been recognized by the state and national association of county agricultural agents with their communication award.