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UK dairy scientist earns national recognition

Amaral-Phillips serves as an extension professor for the UK Department of Animal and Food Sciences. (Steve Patton)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Donna Amaral-Phillip’s goal is to educate dairy farmers, industry personnel, veterinarians and Cooperative Extension agents on the fundamentals of dairy nutrition and management. Her efforts recently led the American Dairy Science Association to honor her with the 2020 DeLaval Dairy Extension Award.

Amaral-Phillips serves as an extension professor for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

The DeLaval Dairy Extension Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in dairy extension. The award recognizes the winner’s valuable and noteworthy contributions to the dairy industry through extension in the broad areas of production, manufacturing, marketing and youth work. The recipient must be active in dairy extension when nominated, have at least 10 years of work with an educational or public institution and have been a member of ADSA for at least five successive years.

Her extension education program centers on applying sound, science-based nutrition recommendations for replacements and lactating dairy cows. She often uses hands-on demonstrations and facilitates farmer-led discussion groups. She was the project leader for DAIReXNET, a national eXtension-driven dairy web resource, which provided dairy-related audiences with science-based, peer-reviewed materials and educational opportunities.

“DAIReXNET illustrated what was possible when extension and research faculty and county extension educators work together collectively on a national basis to provide educational opportunities to end users, such as dairy producers, allied industry personnel, consumers and undergraduate students,” she said.

Amaral-Phillips has been a co-coordinator for the North American Invitational 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl for 32 years. The national event is designed to increase the knowledge of dairy foods and production while building life skills in the next generation of industry leaders.

For more than 20 years, Amaral-Phillips has been actively involved in the interdisciplinary Master Grazer project, designing grazing systems for all ruminant species. She is the editor and author of many articles in a monthly newsletter for Kentucky Cooperative Extension educators and the dairy industry. She has authored or co-authored 52 peer-reviewed extension articles and more than 350 popular press articles.

“Some of my most fulfilling extension work in Kentucky has happened while sitting around a kitchen table or standing in a commodity shed and listening to the concerns of farmers and their families,” she said. “Sometimes my most impactful work has nothing to do with dairy science, per se, but it is always related to some aspects of a family’s farm or business.”

Amaral-Phillips has served on numerous ADSA national committees and has served as president of the Southern division of ADSA. She has received the Southern ADSA Honor Award and the UK Whitaker award for Excellence in Extension.

Amaral-Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in nutritional physiology from Iowa State University. She accepted the DeLaval Dairy Extension Award during the ADSA’s recent virtual annual meeting.