The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) said its board of directors gathered at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on June 20 to celebrate the renovation of the school’s dairy pilot plant, which is now underway, and to enter into a new partnership to strengthen the industry’s educational pipeline.

“WCMA members recognize investments in education as investments in the future success of the U.S. dairy processing industry,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of Madison, Wis.-based WCMA. “We are proud to partner with UW-River Falls to support training programs that will deliver a truly skilled dairy workforce.”

Umhoefer joined the dean of the university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Dale Gallenberg, in a pledge to work together to develop, execute and promote new and existing workshops to meet industry needs, WCMA said.

This action builds on WCMA’s financial support of the dairy pilot plant renovation project. To date, WCMA has directly donated $200,000, and members have made generous individual donations to help the University of Wisconsin-River Falls achieve a complete modernization of its dairy processing facilities, with new automation, piping, and equipment, the association said.

“Students learn at-the-vat in River Falls, and that experience positions them as great assets when they enter the career field,” Umhoefer said. “It’s critical that hands-on opportunities to learn are available to the dairy industry’s next generation of leaders.”

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at University of Wisconsin-River Falls reinstated its Food Science and Technology program in 2016, WCMA noted, and now offers a food processing technology minor. The school’s dairy processing plant also hosts continuing education classes focused on pasteurization, cheesemaking and food safety.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls Foundation is still accepting contributions to this project, including monetary gifts and in-kind equipment donations. To learn more, contact University of Wisconsin-River Falls Advancement Officer Julie Stucky at 715-425-4647 or via email at