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ADSA's top priorities are the Journal of Dairy Science, annual meetings, scientific liaisons with other organizations and agencies, and international development. ADSA is attempting to add value to potential new members through an emphasis on "integration of dairy disciplines from the farm to the table."
In the summer of 1905, the Graduate School of Agriculture was held at Ohio State University. Professor Wilber J. Fraser of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggested a permanent "Dairy Instructors and Investigators Association". Attendees decided that Professor Fraser should discuss the matter further with university leaders and, if enough interest was indicated, call an organizational meeting at the 1906 Graduate School of Agriculture to be held at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Apparently, sufficient interest was raised, because Professor Fraser called interested parties to attend an inaugural meeting on July 17, 1906. Although 19 persons appear on the photograph of that first meeting, records indicate only 17 or 18 charter members joined what was then called "National Association of Dairy Instructors and Investigators". At this time, dairy schools existed at Cornell, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Penn State, Ohio State, Missouri, Minnesota, Guelph (Ontario), and Illinois.
The second meeting was at the National Dairy Show in Chicago on 11 Oct 1907. Only 11 members were present when the meeting was called to order and 21 attended the banquet. At this meeting, the name of the organization changed to "Official Dairy Instructors Association".
The third meeting, held July 22 and 23, 1908 at Cornell University, was a significant success. 69 persons from Canada, 26 states, and the District of Columbia attended. By this time, the committees had become cohesive engines of change, developing score cards for consistently evaluating dairies and rules for judging contests.
At the 10th annual joint meeting in Amherst and Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1916, the organization voted to change its name to its current name. The name change was effective May 1, 1917.
By 1945, ADSA had 1,407 members. By 1985, ADSA had 3,000 members in fifty countries, owned a headquarters building with a staff of nineteen, provided management services for six other organizations, and published the Journal of Dairy Science and five journals for other organizations. FASS Inc., which was founded in 1998, currently provides association management services to ADSA and other clients.
From 1927 to 1997, ADSA held its annual meetings on college campuses. Since 1998, ADSA has held its annual meetings in convention centers.
Journal of Dairy Science
ADSA's scientific journal is the Journal of Dairy Science (JDS). Volume I, Number 1 appeared on May 1, 1917 (also the effective birth date of the association's current name). Initially publishing bimonthly, JDS began monthly publication in 1934 and remains so today. JDS is among the top five most-cited scientific journals in the agriculture category.