A product of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course

Dairy and Livestock Farming in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers can give you the edge you need to succeed in the pasture-based dairy and livestock industries. It is the only program of its kind in the nation, and your best resource for an education in pasture-based dairy and livestock farming.

Holstein's on the Tomandl Family Farm The school has been designed to provide the opportunity for motivated individuals to educate themselves about pasture-based dairy and livestock farming. We offer our specialized training through traditional classroom activities, hands-on internships, and farm tours of pasture-based farms managed by successful graduates and mentors. We strongly emphasize the business and financial planning knowledge required to run a successful farm business. Classroom instruction at the school runs from the middle of November through the end of March — and our students typically participate in internships from April through July, though those dates are flexible.


Nothing surrounding the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is ever a solitary effort. The School gives you access to a network of experienced pasture-based dairy and livestock farmers with a passion for helping new farmers get started. Years after your graduation, you'll still be able to pick up the telephone and call the friends you made at the school - students and instructors - for advice, assistance, or even just to chat.


A White Barn on Bert Paris's Dairy Farm The school has grown out of cooperation between the Farm and Industry Short Course program and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, a university considered by many to have the finest agricultural tradition of any institution in the country. Participating in the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers gives you all the opportunities afforded any other student at the UW - including access to the top-notch athletic, library, and computer facilities on campus.

A distance education option allows students to enroll and participate via live interactive webcast and audio feed at one of several other Wisconsin locations listed below.

A local facilitator leads the distance education seminar at each site, provides networking with area farmers and resource personnel, and conducts a discussion session each week.

Contact information

Madison: Richard Cates, WSBDF Director, 608-265-6437; rlcates@wisc.edu or Nadia Alber, Outreach Specialist, 608-265-6437; nalber@wisc.edu

Appleton: Randy Tenpas, Fox Valley Technical College, 920-735-5673; tenpas@fvtc.edu

Chilton: Jeremy Hanson, Fox Valley Technical College, 920-849-4416; hanson@fvtc.edu or Greg Booher, Lakeshore Technical College, 920-693-1241, greg.booher@gotoltc.edu

Eau Claire: Maria Bendixen, Chippewa Valley Technical College, 715-937-5058; mbendixen2@cvtc.edu

Elkhorn: Peg Reedy, UW-Extension, Walworth County, 262-741-4961; peg.reedy@ces.uwex.edu

Fennimore: JoAnn Peterson, Southwest Technical College, 608-577-0221; jpeterson@swtc.edu

Green Bay: Valerie Dantoin-Adamski, Northeast Technical College, 920-498-5568; valerie.dantoin@nwtc.edu

Independence/Sparta: Brad Sirianni, Western Technical College, 715-533-8081; siriannib@westerntc.edu

La Crosse or Lewiston, MN (site TBD): Aimee Finley, Western Technical College, 507-273-7722; finleya@westerntc.edu

Ladysmith: Rich Toebe, UW-Extension, Rusk County, 715-532-2151; richard.toebe@ces.uwex.edu

Medford: Sandy Stuttgen, UW-Extension, Taylor County, 715-748-3327; sandy.stuttgen@ces.uwex.edu

Menominee: Mark Denk, Chippewa Valley Technical College, 715-577-3036; mdenk1@cvtc.edu

Prairie du Chien: Vance Haugen, UW-Extension, Crawford County, 608-326-0223; vance.haugen@ces.uwex.edu

Reedsburg: Doug Marshall, MATC-Reedsburg, 608-524-7727; dmarshall@matcmadison.edu

Spooner/Siren: Otto Wiegand, UW-Extension, Washburn, Sawyer and Burnett Counties, 715-635-3506; otto.wiegand@ces.uwex.edu

Waupaca: Lynn Jerrett, Fox Valley Technical College, 920-831-4387; jerrett@fvtc.edu

Wausau: Victoria Pietz, North Central Technical College, 715-803-1414; pietz@ntc.edu

Support the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers

Your support can help the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers train new farmers. Gifts received will be used to create an endowment to sustain the program and also will immediately go to work in a variety of ways, including:

  • Tuition scholarships
  • Student conference travel scholarships
  • Honoraria for farmer-speakers
  • Two- and four-month internship expenses
  • General program operations

For more information, see our brochure on Becoming a Friend of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (PDF document).

Ride to Farm is a bicycle ride to raise awareness and funds for the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers. The 12th annual Ride to Farm will take place on June 6, 2015. For more information, visit the Ride to Farm website.

Get in Touch With Us

If you're interested in pasture-based dairy and livestock farming, we invite you to investigate the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers. We love having interested and motivated individuals attend our classes and join our network. We can help you jumpstart your career in pasture-based dairy or livestock farming.

"The most beneficial thing by far was the network of people I metóclassmates and mentorsówho are actively farming. I learned from what they are doing and compared those things to what I am doing."

Joe Heimerl, program graduate