Say cheese, Penn State! Cheese Club evolves, looks forward to continued growth

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When you think Penn State dairy science, you may think of the University Dairy Farm or maybe the Berkey Creamery. But did you know there’s a Penn State Cheese Club

The Cheese Club was founded in 2013 by animal science students with an interest in dairy science. Since then, involvement fairs and word-of-mouth advertising have helped club members reach students from across the University who share their love of cheese. Today, about half of the club's members are from the College of Agricultural Sciences, with the remaining students coming from other colleges. The club's executive board, which is composed entirely of food science students, decided a few years ago that a diverse membership would be better for the club and for the cheese industry.

"We want to teach people about the science and the work that goes into making the cheese they enjoy," said current club president Amy King, a senior food science major from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. "There are lots of students at Penn State who may not be studying food science or dairy, but they can still be supportive of the research and the industries related to those topics."

To make meetings accessible to a broader base of individuals at the University, meetings are a balance of science-heavy content about cheese production and fun cheese-related activities like tastings, pairings and fondue. The general content of meetings varies semester to semester according to members’ interests.

“We’re just trying to educate as many people as possible on cheese tasting, manufacturing and cheese in general,” King said.

Club members usually give lectures during meetings, but past speakers have included a representative from Land O’Lakes, as well as the club’s adviser, Kerry Kaylegian, a dairy professor in the Department of Food Science and international dairy judge. Last year, the club took a trip to Wegmans for a meeting with one of the grocery store’s cheesemongers. The trip included a cheese tasting, and the club was given the opportunity to learn more about production of different classes of cheese.  

As word about the cheese club spreads, other University clubs have been in contact with King expressing interest in joint meetings. So far, there has been a meeting with the coffee club, and King said they have been discussing the possibility of having a meeting with the French club and the wine club in the future.

Club members also are involved in outreach activities. This semester, the club has scheduled a volunteer event with Juniper Village, a local nursing home in State College. Members will take homemade cheese platters to the residents and then spend time socializing while everyone enjoys some great cheese.

“It’s very cool to be at the point where our club can actually do outreach outside the Penn State community,” King said.  

Meetings are held biweekly and currently there are about 25 to 30 dues-paying members. People are always welcome to stop by 133 Food Science Building to check out a meeting, however.

“We always have an interesting group. It’s a really welcoming environment,” King said.

Individuals with questions regarding the Penn State Cheese Club or who are interested in buying club merchandise like T-shirts may contact Amy King at agk5123@psu.edu, visit the club’s Facebook page, or find them on Instagram @penn_state_cheese_club

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Last Updated November 17, 2017