Dairy Club partners with English Language Program

September 27, 2017
Tera Montgomery with goats

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – A group of University of Wisconsin-Platteville dairy science students are finding a way to improve the communication between English and non-English speaking employees on Southwest Wisconsin farms. Last spring, the Pioneer Dairy Club began partnering with Mela Lewandowski, coordinator of the UW-Platteville English Language Program, helping students learn basic Spanish words and phrases that are relevant to the dairy industry.

“The Hispanic community is such an integral part of the agriculture industry,” Dr. Tera Montgomery, associate professor of dairy and animal science at UW-Platteville and club advisor, said. “When we originally pitched the idea of this program to our students, they were immediately excited and on board.”

More than 20 students from the Pioneer Dairy Club participated in the bi-weekly program’s first “semester.” While some students had a brief knowledge and understanding of the language, others were starting from scratch. At the beginning of the program, each student received a dairy terminology book, fully funded by the dairy science program. From there, they worked with Lewandowski to learn Spanish words, phrases and technological terms that may come up while working on dairy farms with members of the Hispanic community.

“This partnership has been a great opportunity for students,” Montgomery said. “They’ve been taught additional skills that will set them apart from other graduates when they’re out looking for future jobs.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, members of UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Dairy Club will be able to showcase their new skills at a special business meeting held at Cottonwood Dairy in Darlington, Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m. While there, the students will have dinner with owner Jim Winn, the farm’s Spanish-speaking employees and other local farmers and producers. In addition, the students will have an opportunity to tour the farm and receive their certificates for completing the language program.

“The agriculture industry is all about building relationships with everyone involved,” Montgomery said. “This event is a great way to show our involvement with the community and hear what local industry professionals think about the program. We want our students and the industry to find value in what we’re doing.”

Looking forward, Montgomery said she hopes this partnership leads to additional opportunities for students as well as more ways to benefit the local industry. For now, Montgomery and members of the Pioneer Dairy Club are looking forward to another semester of the language program, set to begin next spring. To learn more, contact Montgomery at 608-342-6027 or montgomeryt@uwplatt.edu.

Written by: Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications, 608-342-7121, bertolozzia@uwplatt.edu


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