We offer on-campus and distance learning options as well as opportunities for internships and apprenticeships. Click here if you would like to learn how to apply, or you can learn more about each of the options below:
The cornerstone of the school, the Grass-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar is designed to familiarize you with the planning, development and management of a pasture-based dairy or livestock farm business. The course meets once per week from November through March and is divided into three terms that include numerous guest speakers, in class workshops, opportunities to attend state and regional conferences, and tours of WSBDF graduate/mentor dairy and livestock operations. Anyone with a strong interest in grass-based farming can apply to take the seminar, and on campus participants will be afforded all the opportunities to any other student at the University of Wisconsin – including access to the top-notch athletic, library, and computer facilities on campus. Click here for a sample syllabus.
A distance education option allows students to enroll and participate in the Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar via live interactive webcast and audio feed at one of several off-campus locations. A local facilitator leads the distance education seminar at each site, provides networking with area farmers and resource personnel, and may choose to conduct a discussion session after class each week. Sessions are also recorded, so if a student is unable to attend during the live webcast, he or she can download and view the session at a later date. Check our list of distance learning education sites and facilitators to see if the course is offered near you.
For students who want to take the Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar at any time from the comfort and convenience of their own home, we also offer the course on online. The online course includes all of the lectures, discussions, handouts, homework, and business planning materials from the in-person Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar, and it offers students the opportunity to interact with the instructors and get personalized input and feedback on their business plans. Click here to see an outline of the online course materials. If interested, you can register using the link below:
The online course could also be an option for schools, farming organizations, and other groups for whom the training could be beneficial. Please contact us if you are interested in discussing possible group rates.
Students can also take the Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar as part of their education through the UW Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC). Through FISC, students are able to take a range of additional courses in soils, crops, livestock, agricultural economics, agribusiness, communications, and more. The Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar forms the foundation for a Pasture-Based Dairy or Livestock Specialty Certificate through FISC, which also includes additional required courses and electives.
Graduates of the Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar have the opportunity to participate in an internship program, gaining hands-on experience working with a successful, pasture-based farm. WSBDF maintains a list of mentors that includes successful grazers with a range of different operations (dairy, beef, custom heifers, sheep, and others) in several locations around the state of Wisconsin so that interns can find a mentor who fits their learning objectives. Most internships last about two months, but specific arrangements are generally worked out between the intern and mentor with WSBDF support. WSBDF has scholarship funds to provide some interns with a stipend to cover living expenses during the internship. Many of our interns have gone on to be lifelong friends or business partners with their mentor, and some have gone from the internship program to completing the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program described below.
The Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock Seminar forms part of the core curriculum for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program. Under the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, participants go through 4000 hours of training. They start out as apprentices, move on to becoming Journey Dairy Graziers and eventually become Master Dairy Graziers. Learn more about the program at the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship website.