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What is YDLI

ydli The Young Dairy Leaders Institute is a nationally recognized three-phase leader and communication skills development program for young adults (ages 22-45) working in the dairy industry, with all breeds of cattle. Each participant develops top-tier skills and the personal network needed to succeed in today's dairy business. Interested in the next YDLI Class?

Through interactive training sessions and working closely with industry experts and dynamic leaders, YDLI participants:
  • Are prepared to take leadership roles in dairy organizations and their communities.
  • Become effective spokespeople and advocates for the dairy industry with consumers and media.
  • Understand current social, political, scientific, organizational and economic issues facing the industry, and how to affect change.
  • Develop interpersonal relationship and communication skills, and have the opportunity to network with like-minded, enthusiastic young people from across the country.

YDLI Class 9

Join the growing group of individuals who call YDLI the opportunity of a lifetime!

YDLI 9 will have their on-site meetings in Phoenix, Ariz.
Phase I will meet February 25-28, 2015, and Phase III will take place February 24-27, 2016.

Hear what others are saying...

Hoard's Dairyman: "How much do consumers really know about dairy?"
Progressive Dairyman "Three participants share their YDLI experience"
View more testimonials from YDLI graduates.


More Information about Young Dairy Leaders Institute

YDLI's three-phase approach ensures participants develop and retain essential leadership skills, apply those skills in real-life scenarios, and then focus on leadership as influence to benefit the dairy industry. Program content is designed to be fresh, relevant and edgy, hitting the hottest topics in today's industry head-on.

Phase I focuses on individual leadership, growth and personal development learning objectives:

  • Expand self-knowledge and personal relations skills, learning about personality types and temperaments
  • Develop greater understanding of the consuming public and food industry concerns, and learn to address those concerns in an effective manner
  • Learn and practice presentation and media communication techniques to present a stronger image for the dairy industry

Phase II occurs between the on-site trainings in participants' home communities. Class members commit to the following and report progress during Phase III:
  • Identify a target audience and develop an action plan to serve as an agriculture advocate on dairy issue of their choice
  • Write letters of introduction to local media, as well as local, state and national legislators, to develop a relationship and serve as a resource for agriculture-related issues
  • Interview non-farm consumers to gain a greater understanding of their perception of and concerns about the dairy industry and U.S. agriculture
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation about the dairy industry for a community organization

Phase III (four-day conference) is the final on-site YDLI training and focuses on advanced communications training, leadership skills, and the public policy process. Learning objectives include:
  • Become a leader with lasting influence, effectively representing the dairy industry to all sectors
  • Gain a greater understanding of how public policy is formed and how to impact it
  • Practice advanced communication skills, debate current industry issues and learn to appropriately address opposing viewpoints on any topic

Funding and Costs

The Holstein Foundation, through its support from generous corporate and individual donors, covers:

  • Cost of program development and materials
  • Expert speakers and presenters
  • All meals during the on-site conferences

YDLI participants are responsible for:

  • $500 participation fee, which covers all three phases of the program
  • Airfare and other transportation costs associated with attending Phases I & III
  • Lodging during Phases I & III. Accommodations are arranged for participants, with assigned roommates (unless requested otherwise) to share the room cost.

Participants may seek sponsorship on their own to cover program attendance (e.g. from your employer, milk cooperative, feed supplier, etc.)

YDLI Advisory Committee

The YDLI Advisory Committee offers guidance to Holstein Foundation staff in developing program content, and serve as mentors for YDLI participants.

Currently serving on the YDLI Advisory Committee are:

  • Brett Barlass, Hilmar, CA
    Yosemite Jersey Dairy - YDLI Class 6 Graduate
  • Laura Daniels, Cobb, WI
    Heartwood Farm - YDLI Class 4 Graduate
  • Jolene Griffin, Okemos, MI
    United Dairy Industry of Michigan - YDLI Class 8 Graduate
  • Josh Hushon, North Prairie, WI
    Cargill - YDLI Class 6 Graduate
  • Seth Johnson, Tunbridge, VT
    Prince Agri Products - YDLI Class 3 Graduate
  • Matt Nuckols, Beaverdam, VA
    Eastview Dairy - YDLI Class 7 Graduate
  • Tom Thorbahn, Vickery, OH
    Crimson-Lane Farm - Holstein Foundation Trustee
  • Kathryn Walker, Shedd, OR
    Oregon Department of Agriculture - YDLI Class 6 Graduate

Still more questions? Contact Jodi Hoynoski

Graduates of YDLI

Since the first class started in 1994, the Young Dairy Leaders Institute boasts over 500 alumni from eight classes. YDLI graduates hail from across the country and are involved in all aspects of the dairy industry. You will find many names on these lists who have gone on to have a significant influence on the industry.

ydli Distinguished Alumni Leader Award Recipients
Each year, the Holstein Foundation recognizes a YDLI graduate who has shown exceptional leadership and advocacy for the betterment of the dairy industry.
 2015 –
Chandler Goule
2007 –
Duane and Marilyn Hershey
2013/2014 –
Ray Prock
2006 –
Bonnie Burr
2012 –
Brad Scott
2005 –
Lolly Lesher
2011 –
Bonnie Mohr
2004 –
John and Maria Nye
2010 –
Kate Geppert
2003 –
Kevin and Marilyn Steffens
2009 –
Laura Daniels
2002 –
Eric Ooms
2008 –
Jerry Jennissen
2001 –
Peter Kappelman
Class 8 (2013-2014)

Ashley Abbott
Jessica Armacost
Lynsay Beavers
Jeffrey Bewley
Danielle Brown
Emily Caldwell
Mary Murray
Ben Cloninger
Rebecca Daubert
Kimmi Devaney
Ashley Edstrom
Amber Elliott
Sarah Englebert
Amy Fletcher

Lucas Fuess
Jean Gallagher
Kelly Greenbacker
Jolene Griffin
Brad Groves
James Hoffman
Aaron Horst
Betsey Howland
Julia Hudyncia
Leah James
LaVaun Janney
Stephanie Jens
Kelly Johnson
Kristi Keilen

Carrie Mess
Meghan Moody
Lana Olson
Michelle Rauf
Mike Reps
Melissa Sankey
Brent Schuler
Alise Sjostrom
Amanda Smith
Stephanie Stout
Kerry Wiebe
Andy Wood
Angela Zwald

class 7
Class 7 (2011-2012)

Kate Adams
Will Basham
Andrew Birch
Molly Bliss
Bryce Bonow
Stephanie Bowers
Nicole Breunig
Sara Byl
Christopher Carpio
Courtney Connors
Amanda Cowan
Christina Crowley
Beth Dahl
Kylie Daniels
Katie Davis

Chris Eggert
Nicole Fletcher
Antonio Garcia Ramirez
Beth Heinze
Kathryn Hohmann
McKenzie Klein
Robert Larmer
Andy Lenkaitis
Tracy Nelson
Renee Norman
Matthew Nuckols
Greg Nye
Aaron Palmer
Suzanne Perdue
Theo Pieters

Edward Rusenstrom
Raechel Sattazahn
Carissa Sauer
Andy Schwytzer
Krista Sheehan
Lucas Sjostrom
Natalie Sneller
Juan Pablo Torres
Jody Wacker
Jenna Wegner
Morgan Welper
Emily Yeiser

class 7

Class 6 (2008-2009)
Catherine Agnew
Stacey Atherton
Jamie Bansen
Brett Barlass
Jared Barnes
Lorne Briscoe
Brent Broaddus
Jeff Campbell
Jonathan Chamberlin
Chris Connelly
Lori Connelly
Jennifer Dingbaum
Steven Echelmeier
Wanda Emerich
Jared Franklin
Joseta Halbur
Lisa Hayes
Joseph Heimerl
Rebecca Heimerl
Joshua Hushon
Brian Kelroy
Kelly Kendall
Charlie Knigge
Mary Knigge
Tara Kocher
Ben Krahn
Michele Lahmers
Michael Lax
Ann Marie Magnochi
Leslie Maurice
Dawn Mausser
Annie McCullough
Jerome Meyer
Amanda Miller
Kim Morrill
Emily Novinskie
Trent Olson
Doug Post
Ginger Post
Michelle Ramaeker
Katie Reichling
Julie Renner
Daniela Roland
Karen Samek
Joanna Samuelson
Jon Schmidt
Lorilee Schultz
Scott Silveira
Allison Specht
Elias Torres Barrera
Eliza Ulness
Steven Van Dyke
Kathryn Walker
Laurie Winkelman
Ashley Yager
Kelly Zepp
class 7

Class 5 (2005-2006)
Kylene Anderson
Matthew Berning
Daniel Carroll
Kelly Carter
Jerry Emerich
Beth Ertl
Daryl Fletcher
Roxanne Fletcher
Chandler Goule
Adam Griffin
Jennifer Gross
Marcy Guillette
Philip Halhead
Melanie Hoggard
Betsy Hunter
Venessa Knoblock
Kathy Lascala
Lucinda Longo
Kristin Paul
Lisa Perrin
Kimberly Pokorny
Samuel Potter
Ray Prock
Kylie Quesnel
Rob Rowbotham
Ernesto Santillanez
Christopher Sheahan
Stacy Sheahan
Chris Shepherd
Erik Traver
Jennifer Wackershauser
Laura Wackershauser
Carrie Way
Sarah Wilson
Jeannie Winkelman
Lynnette Wright
class 7

Class 4 (2002-2003)
Devin Albrecht
Holly Ballantine
Adam Barbee
Brian Barlass
Mark Bischoff
Jamie Bledsoe
Randall Blodgett
Karen Bohnert
Christopher Booth
Courtney Booth
Logan Bower
Betsy Bullard
William Bullard
Kenlee Calvin
Jessica Chittenden
Jean Conklin
Cheryl Correll
David Correll
Richard Coulthard
Scott Culbertson
Laura Daniels
Jeremy Daubert
Paul Detwiler
Cade Easley
Tim Echelmeier
Timothy Ewing
Jon Gilbert
Neal Grotsun
Christopher Hannan
Sara Harbaugh
Johannes Heijkoop
Fay Hildebrandt
Roger Hildebrandt
Nathaniel Janssen
Daniel Johnson
Darin Johnson
Kevin Jorgensen
Kenneth Kalscheur
Beth Keene
Robin Keller
Thomas Koetsier
Daniel Koopmans
Rebecca Kramer
Joseph Loehr
Christina Lood
Kelly Lyons
Amy Martin
Emily Martin
Jack Martin
Kara McDonald
Brenda Meyer
Benjamin Miller
Jill Miller
Jay Moore
Keith Niemann
Oren Olsen
Daniel Peapenburg
Sherrie Peeler
Tim Perotti
Thomas Powel
Joyce Rienhardt
Richard Rienhardt
Mark Rodgers
Donny Rollin
Macy (Sutton) Rucks
Matthew Sattler
Rick Scheer
Brian Schnebly
Nic Schoenberger
David Schroepfer
Jolynne Schroepfer
James Schulz
Daniel Scothorn
Dan Siemers
Janina Siemers
Joseph Stanek
Kari Stanek
Kurt Steiner
Robin Steiner
Barbara Sturm
Tami Tollenaar
Angie Ulness
Bradley Vold
Suzanne Vold
Miriam Weber Nielsen
Rick Welsh
Janiece Winke
David Winston
Dorianne Wolf
Mark Ziel
Lyle Zimmer
Class 3 (1999-2000)
Rick Adams
Rebecca Akers
Julie Antonutti
Kyle Averhoff
Scott Bartlett
Cathy Bewley
Owen Bewley
Alfred Brandt
Richard Byma
Todd Cavanaugh
Paul Colgan
Scott Courtney
Jerry Dakin
Brian Dougherty
Max Dunseth
Dan Eichelberger
Katina Eichelberger
Keith Engel
Melissa Greenbacker
Charles Gregg
Randolph Gross
Paul Haskins
Cindy Heins
Paul Heins
Ed Henderson
Jennifer Hill

Tom Hogness
Wanda Hogness
Elizabeth Holtcamp
Lori Houck
Michael Hurst
Seth Johnson
Katharine Knowlton
Lyle Kruse
Krista Luedtke
Christopher Mark
Erin Marotz
Cheryl Marti
Shawn McMahon
Linda Meyer
Ronald Meyer
Gina Meyers Miller
Brenda Mihaliak
Jeffrey Montsma
Duane Nelson
Mary Nelson
John Nye
Maria Nye
James Oechsle
Eric Olstad
Eric Ooms
Steven Peterson

Adelia Pimm
Yvonne Preder
Andrea Quinn-Gasper
Melanie Richman
Renee Rippchen
Timothy Saber
Gretchen Sanford
Kirk Sattazahn
Amy Savage
Stuart Schooley
Brad Scott
Russell Seibert
Keith Shiver
Marie Sipler
Oscar Sipler
Stacia Sonderman
Karla Spencer-Deaver
Debra Spurrier
John Steinhoff
Katherine Swift
William Swift
Brian Vaassen
Tammy Voegeli
Heather Ware
Ronald Welper
Jeffrey Ziegler

Class 2 (1996-1997)
Timothy Aggen
Carl Aschoff
Corinne Banker
William Banker
Kerri Belsito
Jackie Bennett
Betsy Bierdek
Brad Brainard
David Cagle
Carrie Chickering Sears
Karen Coleman
Gary Cooper
Julie Cooper
Sandra Cordes
Lisa Coyne
Cameron Davis
Kathleen DeBruin
Robert Doughty
Jeffrey Dunklee
Tammy Edmonds
Scott Faber
Donnette Fisher
Ralph Frerichs
Judy Gordon
Tamie Goss
Carla Gunst
Willis Gunst
Linda Hanson
Sharon Harriger
Mark Helgemoe
Shellie Kappelman
Andrew King
Bryan Knoper
James Koebke
Krisanne Koebke
Constance Kramer
Jayne Krull
John Kuegel
Alan Kuehnert
David Lentz
Lolly Lesher
William Lesher
Christie Lincoln
Rebecca Long Chaney
Douglas Lueking
Corinne Lull
Barrett Lyons
Janet Molhoek
Barbara Natzke
Kathy Neil
David Paddon
Cliff Passino
Becky Payne
Michele Payn-Knoper
Traci Pierson Loonstra
Rhett Proctor
Leigh Randall
Mark Roberts
Michele Ruby
Irene Santos
Wendy Schilter Erbsen
Gregory Schweiger
Joan Seidel
Dennis Sheppard
Sheila Shultz
Denise Skidmore
Vinton Smith
Jill Stahl Tyler
Kevin Steffens
Marilyn Steffens
Susan Summers
Dawn Thompson
Daniel Ulmer
Penny Ulmer
Elizabeth Weas
Cynthia Weimer
Brian Wesemann
Jodi Wright
Melanie Ziegler

Class 1 (1994-1995)
Lonnie Achenbach
Kurt Alexander
Frank Ausman
Jacqueline Barends
Timothy Baumgartner
Thomas Bell
Paul Berning
Deborah Boyd
James Brown
Julie Brown
William Neil Brown
Kenneth Brubaker
Bruce Brunner
Mary Ann Buckley
Holley Burford
Bonnie Burr
Connie Cihak
James Cihak
Catherine Conhiser-Andera
Peter Coyne
Karen Cramer
Mark Crave
Myron Czech
Jean DeBruin
Wayne DeBuhr
Kevin Douma
Mark Douthat
Terry Downs
Kelly Eich
Terry English
Glen Feldpaush
Ronald Fluegel
Jerry Gaffner
Katherine Geppert
Louis Guimond
Robert Haight
Jeffrey Harding
William Hay
Robert Heerspink
Brian Herr
A. Duane Hershey
Marilyn Hershey
Kevin Holtzinger
James Houser
Carl Jardon
Jerry Jennissen
Peter Kappelman
Kyle Knutson
Charles Koenn
Scott Kriebel
Marcia Lahmers
Julie Lincoln Pellett
Denise Lloyd
Herbert Lutz
Kerry Lynn
Dennis Marsh
David McGlothlin
Steve Moff
Bonnie Mohr
John Mohr
Jill Nelson
Mark Newbill
Bethann Niederman
Daryl Nunes
Kathleen O'Keefe
Michael Opperman
John Pagel
Paul Rice
Leroy Rocha
Jerome Rosa
Mark Rueth
John Neal Scarlett
Lynae Schott
Daniel Scott
Ray Scott
Martha Seifert
Darwin Sneller
Leon Sollenberger
Brenda Sosnovske
John Sparrgrove
Peggy Sparrgrove
Paul Trapp
James Umphrey
Rodney Volbeda
Terry Weaver
Margery Webster
Keith Weltzien
Robert Wonderlich
Mark Yeazel
Brian Young
David Yutzy
class 7
YDLI Class 9 Sponsors

The Holstein Foundation is sincerely grateful to the following organizations for their sponsorship of YDLI Class 9. We commend and thank these sponsors investing in leadership development for the dairy industry by supporting Young Dairy Leaders Institute.
Platinum Sponsors
Farm Credit
Hoard's Dairyman

Land O' Lakes Foundation

Dean Foods Foundation
Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors
Accelerated Genetics
Center for Dairy Excellence
GEA Farm Technologies, Inc.
Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association
Bronze Sponsors
COBA/Select Sires
Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement
Horace Backus Fund

Merial, Ltd.
Select Sires GenerVations

If your organization is interested in becoming a YDLI sponsor and investing in the future of the dairy industry, contact Jodi Hoynoski to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

YDLI Alumni Testimonials

YDLI has impacted the lives of people involved at all levels of the dairy industry across the country. Don't just take our word for it - see what YDLI graduates have to say about the program.
Hear from our YDLI 7 Graduates

  "Being a member of Class 1 has been a tremendously rewarding experience. The presentation of the event was first class and thus we all left with a great feeling and excitement for the program to continue. I have always encouraged everyone to attend this program. The leadership and speakers of YDLI had a clear message to those that attended and I have used their training to help me further my career in the dairy industry. It has indirectly helped me to be a better speaker, presenter, and now hopefully a better President as I step into my newly appointed role as the Red & White Dairy Cattle Association President. YDLI is a truly priceless experience."
  – Tim Baumgartner,
YDLI Class 1 graduate, Oakdale, CA

  "YDLI has allowed me to receive the same level of professional training that people might get while working for larger companies. I feel the greatest benefit I have received from my involvement with YDLI is the empowerment to make change in the industry." crave

– Mark Crave,
YDLI Class 1 graduate and partner,
Crave Brothers Farm, Waterloo, WI

  "YDLI opened my eyes to challenges to our industry that I never would have considered addressing previously. In my personal experience, finding the initiative to seek out an audience to tell our story to has been a challenge. YDLI helped me learn how to find people to hear our story, how to tell it, and how to counter alternative arguments. I feel I am more effective with communicating the issues that are so important to our industry. YDLI has only broadened my knowledge and skill set, and has given me more tools to use in the day-to-day contact I have with the general public. franklin
  – Jared Franklin,
YDLI Class 6 graduate and dairy producer, Bradyville, TN

  "YDLI has given me more confidence to tell the story of the dairy industry whenever I have the chance to – whether it be at our county fair in the barns or sitting in a barber chair. I was hesitant after arriving for Phase I of Class I, but have now realized bring a part of YDLI is one of the best things that I've done in years."  
  – Brian Herr,
YDLI Class 1 graduate, Newton, WI

  "Whether I am explaining how to raise calves to school kids, writing articles about farm life or speaking to women's groups about my picture book; the leadership skills gained at YDLI are evident.

Unlike most leadership courses we have been involved with, YDLI stimulates participants to use leadership skills in whatever situation we become involved in. They encourage reaching out beyond our familiar farm community into public involvement, from grass roots upward.

Farmers used to get by without being involved, but with urban sprawl on our heels and public misunderstandings all around us, it is imperative that we step forward in communicating about agriculture. If farmers are not a voice for themselves, no one will hear their story."

  –Duane and Marilyn Hershey,
YDLI Class 1 graduates, dairy producers,
Cochranville, PA

  "I participated in YDLI Class 3 and found it to be the best leadership activity I have ever participated in. The program challenged me to evaluate my own skills and the skills of those I work with daily. The program was fun and didn't feel like work, but it was challenging and I feel I retained many of the lessons learned.

I cannot say enough about the value of networking at YDLI. I personally made several friendships and countless contacts during my YDLI experience that have served me well, even years down the road. The perfect mix of young dairy producers and support industry people, combined with respected industry veterans leading the way makes YDLI a must for young people that intend to make their mark in this industry. We pay for new employees to go to YDLI and have had a total of eight participate. I feel that it is an excellent investment in their future and ours."

  – Seth Johnson,
YDLI Class 3 graduate and
Executive Secretary, American Guernsey Association

  "YDLI is the most effective leadership training program I've participated in, and has had a significant impact on my career. Probably most helpful was the training in Phases 1 and 3 that made me more aware of different styles of working and learning. That training has made me better able to work with my students and employees toward their professional and personal growth, rather than expecting them all to fit the same mold."  
  – Dr. Katharine F. Knowlton,
YDLI Class 3 graduate and Associate Professor,
Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech

  "YDLI was a wonderful learning experience for us. We refined our communication skills and worked to complete written goals. The planning and strategy skills we learned have helped us concentrate on the important aspects of our farm, our business and our responsibility to our community. Additionally, the friends and relationships we started there have continued to grow." lesher
  – William and Lolly Lesher,
YDLI Class 2 graduates
and dairy producers, Bernville, PA

  "YDLI impacted my life in so many ways. But the biggest impact it left on me was that it gave me the knowledge and courage to stand up for the industry that I love and tell the story! I knew a lot before I went to YDLI, but I was missing the confidence to stand up and be a voice for the industry. YDLI gave me the means to overcome this fear!" franklin
  – Leslie Maurice,
YDLI Class 6 graduate, Conover, OH

  "The people I met through YDLI changed my perspective about the dairy industry and my approach to it as a business. I talk regularly (monthly or more) with people I met in YDLI Class 1. YDLI is still the most valuable leadership training I've received."  
  – David McGlothlin,
YDLI Class 1 graduate, Richmond, KY

  "We feel that our YDLI experience has been one of the best we've had during our 20+ years in the dairy business. On a professional level, we have developed the habit of always being ready to discuss issues, host visitors, and share our story. We understand the importance of seeing more than one side of an issue and being able to reasonably address others' concerns without emotional interference."  
  –John and Maria Nye,
YDLI Class 3 graduates
and dairy producers, Delta, UT

  "I have received much benefit from YDLI, both personally and professionally. My biggest gain was the ability to network with people from many different aspects of the dairy industry from all over the country. It has given me the knowledge to be able to use my voice and stand up to support the industry on key issues that affect producers. YDLI has also given me the confidence to deal with consumers in a positive manner. The knowledge and resources I have gained have been valuable tools to take home and use in my community." franklin
  – Michelle Ramaeker,
YDLI Class 6 graduate
and dairy producer, Mountain Grove, MO

  "YDLI is a program that is all encompassing. It is so much more than learning how to be an advocate for the dairy industry. It taught me how to be a better member for the organizations that I belong to, it allowed me to create a national network of colleagues and it gave me valuable tools and resources. All of this combined has allowed me to be a stronger voice for the dairy industry." higgs
  –Kathryn Walker,
YDLI Class 6 graduate, Shedd, OR

  "I think YDLI is an excellent opportunity to meet other young professionals around the US and hear their stories of how they are surviving in the dairy industry. I feel it is working to provide unity in the industry when bringing these young professionals together and discovering we all have the same issues."  
  – Lucinda Whitlow Longo,
YDLI Class 5,
Litchfield, CT

  "While I am usually never short on words, before YDLI I never really used my voice for anything to promote and protect the dairy industry. My YDLI experience opened my eyes to the need for voices in the dairy and agricultural industries to speak up and protect our livelihood. Now I use every opportunity I can to share about our industry." Winkelman
  – Laurie Winkelman,
YDLI Class 6 graduate,
Dryden, NY

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