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Iowa’s Dairy Center

upl_iowa-dairy-centerThe Dairy Center is a learning center for people of all ages.  This 18,000 square-foot education and lab facility is a teaching, research and demonstration center for children, NICC dairy students and area dairy farmers.

Over 4,500 northeast Iowa 3rd-5th grade students have visited the working dairy operation since it opened in 2000.  Children’s tours of the facility include hands-on activities, demonstrations and displays that explore the changes in the dairy industry over the past 100 years.  Iowa’s dairy industry is brought to life for students when they interact with animals, watch cows being milked and learn how dairy farming benefits the state.

The Dairy Center also offers two-year associates degrees and certificates to college students through a partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC).  To date, 112 NICC students have received degrees and hands-on training at the Dairy Center.

The Dairy Center was the first in a succession of projects and facilities created by the partnership of the Dairy Foundation, ISU Extension and NICC.  The calf facility, added in 2004, features a state-of-the-art building focused on calf health and operator comfort.  The Grazing Center, the newest facility, demonstrates a low cost, low capital style of milk production, making it easier for new dairy operations to start.

The Dairy Center received a SSNHA grant in 2002 to fund phase two of “Iowa’s Dairy Story.”  The completed project tells the story of Iowa’s dairy production through historical dairy industry displays, brochures, tours, outdoor signage and dairy education curriculum.  A second SSNHA grant was awarded in 2005 to fund interpretative signs for The Dairy Center’s two new facilities.

In the 2005 SSNHA designation application process, The Dairy Center was upgraded from an Affiliate Site to a Strategic Investment Partner based on the level of interpretation, service and facilities available at the site.

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