Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) and the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, have partnered to enhance the Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship (DHA) program to reach more students interested in a professional career as a herdsperson.  

Ridgetown Campus will use $300,000 in provincial government funding to develop virtual learning modules and increase program accessibility to produce highly trained graduates while addressing a labour shortage faced by dairy farms. 

“As a long-standing partner, we are proud to support the University of Guelph’s commitment to the dairy industry through programs such as the Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship,” said Murray Sherk, board chair at DFO. “We are thrilled to work alongside Ridgetown Campus, who will use the Skills Development Fund to virtually expand the program, reach more students and meet the needs of Ontario’s dairy producers.” 

Ridgetown Campus will use the funding to add a distance education format to the DHA, allowing a majority of the apprenticeship in-class training to be done virtually. This means more students across the province will have access to the skills and training required to pursue their career in this growing sector.  

The DHA program combines deep insight into the dairy industry’s needs, enables relationship building with key stakeholders and will offer excellent online learning environments for a well-rounded experience, which will help graduates land impactful careers within the dairy industry.  

“This program is a great step forward to meet what students need, especially when balancing work and school. Online learning will be combined with on-site modules offering more students the opportunity to complete the dairy apprentice training,” said Brett Shepherd, director, Ridgetown Campus. “We are excited to be working with DFO on building industry expertise across the province.” 

The funding came from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development through the Skills Development Fund, which backs projects that will support Ontario’s economic recovery.  

“Ontario’s dairy farmers are everyday heroes who work tirelessly to keep milk and dairy products on the table for families across our province and country,” said Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton. “Our government is proud to invest in a homegrown training program to help job seekers get the skills they need to provide quality food to the people of Ontario for generations to come.” 

About Dairy Farmers of Ontario 

Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) is the marketing board for the largest sector of Ontario agriculture. Our mission is to provide leadership and excellence in the production and marketing of Canadian milk for a dynamic, profitable growing dairy industry. Ontario’s 3,273 dairy farmers, their families and employees are proud to produce high-quality milk for Canadians.

About Ridgetown Campus 

The Ridgetown Campus is part of the Ontario Agricultural College of the University of Guelph. We focus on the delivery of diploma education, applied agricultural and environmental research, and lifelong learning. We improve the world growing around us for plants, animals and the environment.