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BRATTLEBORO, VT - Melissa Greenbacker Dziurgot, of Durham, CT, herd manager for Greenbacker Farm, has been named the 2017 Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) Distinguished Alumni Leader by the Holstein Foundation.

Each year, the Holstein Foundation honors one YDLI alum who has made notable contributions and used the skills gained during their YDLI experience for the betterment of the dairy industry. Greenbacker Dziurgot was a graduate of YDLI Class 3.

Greenbacker Farm is a 150-cow dairy where Greenbacker Dziurgot is responsible for all aspects of herd health including reproduction, nutrition, and milk quality, and works closely with their veterinarian and other consultants. She mentors a group of 4-H kids who lease, work with, and show the farm’s cattle at the local fairs. Taking the time to exhibit the cattle at the fairs allows her to interact with consumers and answer their questions.

“When I first attended YDLI, I was shy and uncomfortable speaking in front of people. My YDLI experience and training pushed me to break out of that shyness and timidity, and I started to take more active leadership roles. At YDLI, I took the Myers - Briggs personality type assessment survey. This led me to better understand and communicate more effectively with others on the farm. While at YDLI, I developed a personal mission statement and set life goals, which helped me balance my personal and farm life,” says Greenbacker Dziurgot. “The media training was extremely valuable to me as I began to take on those roles. YDLI is a fantastic program and I am grateful for the difference it has made in my life and in many other participants' lives. I highly recommend the program to any young farmer involved in the dairy industry.”

Greenbacker Dziurgot is the instructor for on-farm clinicals enrolled in the veterinary tech and veterinary assistant programs through Middlesex Community College, Middletown, Conn. She earned her B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University. Greenbacker Dziurgot is a member of the Dairy Management Inc. Dairy Farmer Spokesperson Network and the Dairy Emergency Response Network. She also holds the office of 1st Vice-President for the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association. Greenbacker Dziurgot is active in her community, serving as Vice-President of Durham Agricultural Commission and Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative Legislation & Education Committee member.

“Public outreach within my community was also a valuable tool that I developed with my YDLI training,” says Greenbacker Dziurgot. “I credit the YDLI program for pushing me to step out and make a difference in not only the dairy industry but also in my community. Our farm is in a suburban area where many people are unfamiliar with agriculture. Opportunities to interact with the public arise by hosting tours and open houses at our farm.”

Greenbacker Dziurgot will be recognized during the upcoming YDLI Class 10, Phase I program, February 8-11, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona. The Young Dairy Leaders Institute, a program of the Holstein Foundation, is a nationally recognized three-phase leadership and communication skills development program for young adults working in the dairy industry. For more information about YDLI and other Holstein Foundation programs, visit www.holsteinfoundation.org, or contact Jodi Hoynoski, at 800.952.5200, ext. 4261 or by email, jhoynoski@holstein.com.

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