$1 million in pledges raised for Dairy Pilot Plant at UW-River F - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

$1 million in pledges raised for Dairy Pilot Plant at UW-River Falls

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River Falls (WQOW) - As one of only two on-campus facilities in the state, UW-River Falls' Dairy Pilot Plant is a unique learning environment. But some of the equipment is getting stale, so to speak, and the school has been raising money for new gear.

"We're constantly coming up with new products," said Amy Kringle, UW-River Falls Senior.

As food science majors at UW-River Falls will tell you, cutting the cheese is no joke. In fact, it's just part of the learning process.

"There'll be one person that's packaging it, someone that's sealing it, someone that's shrink-wrapping it, and then labeling it," said Nick Larscheidt, UW-River Falls Senior.

But for future students, that process will be sped up. That's because the school has officially received $1 million in pledges for a renovation project.

"We're hoping to upgrade our HTST pasteurizing system, and we're hoping to update two new cheese vats. It takes us close to three and a half hours to get through an entire pasteurizing system. So what we're trying to do is shorten that time and make it more relevant for the students," explained Michelle Farner. Dairy Pilot Plant Manager.

"You learn how the product goes from the milk in the bulk tank to on the shelf. And you get to see all different aspects while you're working here," Kringle added.

Students here have already packaged a Sweet 'n Spicy Cheese and a Wasabi Dill Cheese, and those are just two of the more than 20 varieties the plant produces.

The milk for the cheese comes from the school's nearby farm, and the finished products? Once students finish labeling them they head to a store on campus, which has a menu that's constantly under construction.

"We just made a new flavor of cheese this past week. It was Bacon Mango Colby," Larscheidt added.

With $1 million in pledges so far, the school needs an additional $2 million before construction starts. It's tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2015. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery have contributed to the project. And if cheese isn't your dairy product of choice, students also make over 30 flavors of ice cream.

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