UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant Last Cheese

Students package freshly made cheese curds in the UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant in 2018.

Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. invests in dairy education 

October 30, 2019 – Dairy industry leader Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. has announced a second financial commitment of $350,000 toward the Dairy Pilot Plant Renovation Project at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, bringing its total support to $525,000.

The Dairy Pilot Plant provides students with hands-on learning experiences in the development, production and marketing of cheeses and ice cream and has been doing so for over 30 years.

To ensure the plant meets industry standards as the university prepares students for future careers, UW-River Falls developed a plan in 2013 to renovate the facility. UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen described the $3.5 million Dairy Pilot Plant modernization project as transformational and a high priority for the university. Grassland President Trevor Wuethrich agrees.

“In order for the future of dairy processing in Wisconsin to advance, innovation and modernization are essential,” said Wuethrich. “The new plant can more effectively provide students with an understanding of product and processing safety by integrating separation of raw and finished product rooms, thus providing real life experiences in dairy processing.”

“Graduates who’ve taken advantage of this unique educational opportunity have consistently gone on to become industry experts at top organizations in the region and the nation,” said Van Galen. “We are grateful to Grassland for a gift that is aligned with the future success of our students.”

Both state and industry partners have contributed to the Dairy Pilot Plant’s ongoing renovation project. In 2013, Grassland Chairman Tayt Wuethrich pledged $175,000 to help get the renovation project off the ground.

“I am pleased to say Grassland has committed to invest another $350,000 over the next three years to help finalize the project,” Wuethrich announced last week.

“As you may notice I did not call this a donation, but an investment, which I believe it is,” said Wuethrich. “This not only serves to educate our future employees but may open opportunities for research and product development.”

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) Executive Director John Umhoefer congratulated Wuethrich for Grassland’s continued support of the project.

“I’m proud of the Wuethrich family and Grassland for their vision,” Umhoefer said. “Campus leaders at the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and Chancellor Dean Van Galen have earned this investment through their hard work and tireless commitment to their students, programs and this renovation project. UW-Rivers Falls is a place where things get done.”

Last week, WCMA pledged $50,000 to challenge industry for matching contributions in the final phase of the renovation effort, bringing the association’s total contribution to $250,000.

“Obviously, this level of giving means a great deal to us,” said UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant Manager Michelle Farner. “These gifts highlight UWRF’s profound partnerships with the dairy industry and our commitment to train the next generation of industry leaders.”

The UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant is expected to be fully operational by fall 2020. 

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