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A Short Course Success Story: Polk County Impact

Craig Dueholm left his family farm in Polk County to participate in UW–Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) program. He returned with the campus experience and plenty of new knowledge to operate his farm.

Craig Dueholm

When Craig Dueholm went off to UW–Madison to attend the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) program, it wasn’t simply to learn more about dairy farming.

“I wanted to get away from the farm and see something different,” he says, “so that I could decide whether or not I wanted to return to the farm.”

Dueholm did return to the farm and Polk County after earning UW–Madison FISC certificates in 1998 and 1999. He used his time at the university wisely, taking classes in everything from the reproduction of farm animals to combating insect pests, a class taught by Phillip Pellitteri.

“I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would in that class,” he says.

In addition to working hard in his courses, Dueholm got involved in dairy judging in his first year at UW–Madison. He also traveled to California to study dairy operations in that state. While he was out there, he was able to experience some of the culture and see things such as Muir Woods.

“I took advantage of the time I had at the UW,” he says. “I stayed involved and I stayed on campus most weekends. I also had friends in the four-year programs.”

I took advantage of the time I had at the UW. I stayed involved.

In his work on his dairy farm in northwest Wisconsin, Dueholm also takes full advantage of what’s available to him. He and his brother Carl — who represent the fourth generation of their family to operate a dairy farm on their land — take advantage of modern technology to improve their operation.

One example is the total mixed ration system, which allows them to carefully mix their feed so that cows get optimal nutrition without wasting resources. They have also adopted advances in facility design.

“We’ve built facilities that allow us to get tasks done more efficiently,” Dueholm says. “It’s made things easier for us and our employees.”

The Dueholm brothers, he says, are not alone in their commitment to using best practices. “There are a lot of really progressive dairies in Polk County.”

Dueholm’s message to young people who are considering a dairy farming career is to do their homework. And, he adds, the most important thing is: “Learn from your mistakes.” And there’s no better place to learn — with or without mistakes — than at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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