POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — The College of the Ozarks W. Alton Jones Dairy, supervised by Dairy Manager Ryan Bilyeu and Assistant Dairy Manager Dylan Erwin, received national rankings from the Holstein Association USA in Jan. 2024 as part of the 2023 High Ranking BAA Lists. College of the Ozarks ranked No. 1 in Colleges and Universities, No. 2 in Missouri, and No. 3 in the region 7.
“Through the students’ hard work, paying attention to detail, and analyzing every part of the cow, we have created an incredible herd that brought this small private college to first place, above all the major universities,” Bilyeu said. “It takes blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish this high honor.”
Over the past seven years, the College’s dairy has diligently worked to move up in the university rankings. Since 2017, they have moved up from seventh place to first place.
“It takes a lot of work,” Bilyeu said. “The dairy students get up early in the morning and stay until late at night. It makes it worth it when a small school, tucked into the hills of the Ozarks, is recognized at such a high level out of all the colleges and universities in the U.S.”
This accomplishment is made possible because of the hard work of Bilyeu and Erwin, along with the students who invested their talents and energy. Erwin manages the herd in the absence of Bilyeu and leads the tasks of processing milk weekly to be distributed across campus. The assistance of Erwin in daily tasks, such as milk processing and caring for the facilities, has allowed Bilyeu to devote time to researching the best genetics to incorporate into the herd, leading to this high achievement.
The team at the dairy is made up of a variety of students. Some come from a farming background, and some are not but have an interest in agriculture.
“They see working in the dairy as an opportunity to learn,” Bilyeu said. “Most of our students are agricultural majors; however, there are some who study nursing, history, education, criminal justice, and conservation.”
After working in the dairy and completing their time at College of the Ozarks, most graduates hold positions as herd managers, feed salespeople, loan officers, agricultural teachers or professors, and veterinarians. Agricultural majors at the College include the following: Agribusiness, Agricultural Development, Agriculture Education/Secondary Education, Agronomy, Animal Science, and Horticulture. Minors include Agribusiness, Agricultural Development, Agronomy, Animal Science, and Horticulture.
The dairy represents only one agricultural area or workstation. College of the Ozarks also has a beef farm, hog farm, gardens, meat processing, and agronomy workstations. All the workstation managers, along with the agricultural professors, help make up the strong program at C of O. The managers hired are experts in their fields as well as educators committed to providing students with opportunities to gain practical skills in production agriculture.
The C of O agriculture program is strengthened by ag workstations. Theory taught in the classroom is married with practical hands-on application gained at the workstation. Graduates are sought after not only for their knowledge in their chosen major but for their experience and ability to apply the knowledge in the workplace.
General Farm Manager Tammy Holder provides oversight for these programs.
“It takes a team to achieve the #1 collegiate dairy in the nation,” Holder said. “I am very proud of the dairy managers and students as well as the managers and students that supply forage and feed for the dairy. Excellence and attention to detail in agronomic practices and ration balancing help ensure the cows are fed high quality feed throughout all stages of their lives.”
To view this ranking, visit https://www.holsteinusa.com/programs_services/baa_lists_2023.html