‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’

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It makes you think doesn’t it?  Think about what you’ve done that’s totally out of the norm and new for the first time. For me, I reflect upon my days at University of Wisconsin-Madison when I saw this and thought at Poultry Camp 2K17- or at least that’s what we all called it. It’s actually the Center of Excellence Scholarship/Internship Program of the Midwest Poultry Consortium. Where, for 6 weeks, you are immersed in poultry science all day, every day learning about research, education and employment opportunities. And after my short 6 weeks in Madison, I had 9 credits with nationally recognized faculty and an unforgettable poultry science experience. I’ve always said I wanted to work with animals when I grow up but now I am learning how to encompass poultry into that childhood dream.

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UW Madison Campus with Flat Perry.

I’ve never had so much hands-on experience with any other class as I did with this program and to go through the different poultry industries was very eye-opening. From learning about avian diseases and health management to discussing the hot buttons topics of organic and antibiotic free products. It was such pleasure working with all my classmates, and possibly some future co-workers, during that time. I was able to learn so much and I did try to take in as much as I could from the faculty and staff, plus all my classmates with their various poultry experiences.

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Classmates of COE 2017.

 My previous poultry encounters consisted of petting my friend’s chickens at county fair and that’s about it. Now, I recently just completed my internship with Jennie-O Turkey Store and am able to apply everything I’ve learned from UW-Madison to my intern project. And now, I can examine birds inside and out and be able to actually understand what’s going on from their changes in the environment, what a diet consists of and any other factors when supervisors, farm managers, etc. discuss their birds on the farm.

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Touring an organic, free range egg layer farm in WI.

So, my answer to the question first asked above, Poultry Camp 2K17 was definitely the last time I’ve done something for the first time and am very proud of my accomplishments this summer in trying a new animal agriculture industry where I can see a potential future. The only way I would have gotten this far, is by all the encouragement and support from all those in my life that pushed me towards this new journey.  So my advice to end that question of ‘When was the last time you’ve done something for the first time’ is to take that chance, jump right in, just say yes and don’t be afraid to seek out something new for the first time!

In Sisterhood,

Abby

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Life long friends can easily be made when studying poultry science for 6 weeks!

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Abby is our current 2017 President and senior studying Animal Science and minoring in Extension Education from Pelican Rapids, MN. She is also keeping active in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and NDSU Agriculture Collective.

A Summer Internship in the “Alcohol” Industry

This summer I had the pleasure of working as a Commodities Intern at Bushmills Ethanol in Atwater, Minnesota.  I worked under the Commodities Manager who happens to be an NDSU Alum and an Alum from Sigma Alpha’s Brother Fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho!

I would have to say that the most rewarding part of my internship experience was getting to experience a new side of the Agriculture industry that I have never been a part of before with growing up on a small crop farm and having two prior internships in Agronomy and Research.  I got to partake in Commodity Marketing and Merchandising and learn so much about the Ethanol Industry through this internship.

 

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Amber with part of the Ethanol Plant in the Background)

Bushmills is a dry mill plant that began operating in 2005.  Bushmills is a Cooperative made up of around 400 farmers and members with an interest in making an economic impact in the regional community.  My family sells a majority of our Corn to Bushmills because we believe in the Ethanol Industry and cleaner emissions since there is so many cars on the roads today.  The plant strives to be an efficient producer of ethanol and its co-products with a low carbon footprint, and to promote the “clean octane” value of ethanol which will ensure long-term profitability for the industry and the investors in Bushmills Ethanol.  As of now Bushmills can produce up to 65 million gallons of ethanol within a year.  Soon though, they will be expanding and will be able to produce up to 100 million gallons using the same amount of water they are using now!  The water is constantly recycled as well!

The company purchases, sells, and grinds down corn.  As well as produces and sells Ethanol, Dry Distiller Grains (DDGs), Modified Distiller Grains (“Wet Cake”), Corn Oil, and Corn syrup.  Everything listed is a “left over” of producing Ethanol.  Ethanol, also called alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and drinking alcohol, is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.  It is a volatileflammable, colorless liquid with a slight characteristic odor.  Ethanol is mostly produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts, or by petrochemical processes.  It is widely used as a solvent, as fuel, and as a feedstock for synthesis of other chemicals; as well as in many other minor uses. (Wikipedia)

Most of the time the by-products of producing Ethanol are fed to livestock but there are now scientists that have developed DDG Cookies (which are very delicious by the way).  “DDG are a by-product of the ethanol-making process and are most commonly used as a high-protein livestock feed. When a 56-pound bushel of corn is made into ethanol, you get 2.8 gallons of fuel and about 18 pounds of DDG” (MN Corn). “There are currently no food products on the market that contain DDG, but continued research is progressing toward bringing a product to grocery store shelves one day.  By using DDG to replace a small portion (2-10 percent) of the flour in food products, that product’s protein and dietary fiber percentages increase significantly” (MN Corn).  They are also working on producing flatbreads with up to 20 percent DDG in them along with other food products!

Although my internship was at an Ethanol plant, I highly recommend internships to others no matter what type it is or where it is.  Internships are very rewarding for high school and college students to learn what they want to do in the future.

In Sisterhood,

Amber Willis

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Amber Willis is from Wilmar Minnesota. She studied two years at Ridgewater College before transferring to NDSU to study agricultural economics. Amber serves as our chapter’s alumni liaison. 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol

http://www.mncorn.org/2015/03/25/could-an-ethanol-by-product-be-the-next-big-thing-in-food/

http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/6186/distillers-dried-grain-yields-high-fiber-high-protein- flour

I am a Farmer’s Daughter

I consider myself blessed to have grown up in a farming family. Erickson Farms is a fifth (hopefully I can make it a sixth) generation farm located in the Red River Valley, roughly ten miles north of small town Ada, Minnesota (a population of barely 1,700). This is the place where I found my first, my biggest, my proudest passion; agriculture.

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Now, technically, I never actually “lived” on the farm, but I pretty much spent every waking moment I could there. Some of my earliest and best memories involve the farm or field some way or another. My all-time favorite memory is me sitting on my dad’s lunch pail in the tractor (that was the “buddy seat” at my age), watching him make his passes in the field while he was planting the crops (corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and wheat to be specific). He may not have noticed then, but he planted a seed in my heart too; a seed for the love of agriculture.

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While other young girls played with dolls and played dress up (not saying I never did that), I was watching and helping my dad clean and fix equipment, mowing the massive lawn (sometimes taking 5 hours and getting that wonderful farmer’s tan), running through fields of corn and wheat, or taking the 4-wheeler on mini treks. Before I knew how to drive a car, I was driving around tractors and combines. My summers and falls consisted of driving the grain cart and chisel plowing the fields after harvest. I remember one year, I was driving grain cart in a field that had two combines with two different sized headers. That means I was trying to switch the auto-steer between combines (first world problems, I know). So I was already nervous doing that. To top it off, the combine I was unloading at the time was nearing the edge of the field, so I basically had to turn the huge quad track tractor and grain cart sharply to avoid running into the neighboring field. Okay, maybe I didn’t have to turn as soon and as sharp as I thought. Before I knew it, I turned too close to the combine and hit the header. Thankfully it was only minor damage to the plastic (sorry Dad if you’re reading this and it brings back horrible memories).  Hey, I never said I was perfect.

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The lessons I learned on the farm and my dad far outweighs the ones that came from classrooms and teachers (don’t tell my teachers that). I learned to be optimistic. I learned to be compassionate. I learned to never give up. But most importantly, I learned the real importance of agriculture. The agricultural industry is one that many of people who aren’t engaged in it look down upon. Without agriculture, life that we know would definitely not be the same.

My dad has always been one of my biggest role models in my life, always taking time to offer advice and pushing me to do my best.  I can definitely accredit a big part of my independent spirit to him, something I’m often thankful for. Just like many farmers, and farmer’s daughters, I am honored of where I grew up and how I was raised.  The farm and how my parents decided to live, has played a large part in how I view life and who I am today.

I love that no matter where life takes me or who I become, I’ll always be a proud farmer’s daughter.

In sisterhood,

Alyson

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Alyson Erickson
Agricultural Economics Major | Crop and Weed Science Minor
Chaplain | Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Soroit

Getting Dirty in Agriculture

I think one of the coolest things about being a part of agriculture are the procedures and techniques I get to take part in or also known as getting dirty in agriculture. A lot of people do not get to or want to experience these types of entities of agriculture, they only get the end product. A lot of people do not realize how much goes on behind the scenes whether you are a crop farmer, dairy farmer, swine farmer, etc.

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This summer I took on an internship with Birds Eye Foods as a Field Assistant, where I work under an amazing Agriculturist who covers the Dakota County area in Minnesota. Now in the beginning I was a little uncertain with taking on this internship, because being an Animal & Equine Science major with no background knowledge of plants I thought I wouldn’t be able to succeed. But, as the summer moved forward and the time that flew by I have learned so much on how many entities of agriculture the simplest little “dirty” things can have a huge effect on people.

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To start out, Birds Eye Foods is a large frozen food company located out of Waseca, Minnesota with other facilities in different areas. My job as a Field Assistant is to take on tasks that are given to me and figure out how to efficiently finish these tasks in a timely manner. Some of these tasks were simple such as delivering seed to growers, looking at corn tassels, discuss the important things in a plants life such as rain, sun, temperature, etc. Others not so much. As soon as our pea and corn plants started to bloom, grow, and fill out, we begin to get dirty in agriculture by sampling fields. Sampling pea or corn fields are where you get up before sun, put on your “banana suit,” find four good spots in the field that will give you a good representative sample, and grab a burlap bag full of peas or corn and bring them back to a plant that has hundreds of other employees waiting for results on whether your pea or corn plants are ready to harvest so they can work to. Without getting dirty and sampling peas and corn, no one would know what is ready and what isn’t. For me to understand how a simple, dirty task can control how many people’s jobs IS CRAZY! This only one of the many small, behind the scenes tasks that a lot of people do not know about.

This internship has shown me what it is like to get down and dirty with the crops we love and how much goes on behind the scenes in agriculture. Agriculture will forever be that dirty fun job that the only way you are going to know how it works-is by being part of it.

In Sisterhood,

Sam

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Samantha Ruger Animal & Equine Science Major | Agribusiness Minor
Certification in Animal Health Management
Recruitment Chair | Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority
Compliance Officer | NDSU Agriculture Collective
Member | NDSU Saddles & Sirloin Club
Member | NDSU Dairy Club

 

 

 

Summer Fun on the Farm

Coming upon my soon-to-be last semester at North Dakota State University, it’s got me thinking all nostalgic. I think back to simpler times and fond summer memories. Back to not having to worry about jobs to pay bills and the highlight of the day was watching a new episode of “Dragon Tales” (My siblings and I were not “#blessed” with cable TV). Our greatest triumphs included successfully finding the “perfect” hiding place in the back of the freezer for the last Schwann’s ice cream bar. However, this sometimes became our biggest tragedy when we unfortunately discovered that our sibling had also found the same “perfect” hiding place. But moving on…

I think it’s safe to say that growing up on our family’s small dairy farm in southeast Minnesota gave my siblings and I some interesting summers. Growing up as “farm kids”, every day was a new adventure. The farm was our playground and my sister, brother, and I, the three Musketeers who were always on the search of that next adventure.

With our crazy hair, dirty hands, and knee-high muck boots, we would tear around our family’s small farm almost every single day in the summer. Often, it consisted helping Dad and Grandpa with various chores like watching the gate, watching another one, and watching yet another gate to make sure no cows, heifers, or steers got out. Although, as we got older, more jobs included unloading hay bales (always on the hottest days of the year I might add), help Grandpa with calf feeding chores, and picking endless amounts of rock in the field (I swear, if we had gotten a nickel for all the rocks we had to pick every year, we’d be billionaires!)

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But before those extra responsibilities were bestowed upon us and when we weren’t having a “grand ‘ol time” watching gates, we tamed the wild kittens around the farm and picked out personal favorites before anyone else claimed the cute gray one as their own. After playing with the kittens got boring, we would climb up the hay bales in our hay barn to our “fort” where we stashed Ziploc bags full of treats (mostly consisting of honey nut cheerios) and we played “house”. Amid the hottest summer days, we were mostly found running around the feed bunk of the milk cows where the water sprinklers were to keep the cows cool. Who needed to go to a crowded pool when you could just run amongst bovines under some sprinklers?

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As days got shorter and summer drew to the end, the county fair approached. Instead of chasing kittens around, we were chasing heifers to catch and hopefully by the grace of God, show them at the fair. This annual “rodeo” of sorts consisted of lots of bumps, bruises, complaining, and some cussing here and there. But among all the washing, clipping, and training our heifers, there was also a lot of laughs and good times generously sprinkled in.

I could go on reminiscing about the glamorous times the Kruger kids had in the summer like all the times we played bike tag (think a combination of tag and bumper cars and you get the picture) or having water fights in the milking parlor while Dad attempted to finish milking before he got drenched too, but I’ll leave that for another time perhaps. For now, I just go on remembering the summer of my youth and hope you all have a great rest of your summer.

In Sisterhood,

Carlie

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Carlie Krueger is a Senior from Caledonia, MN. She will be graduating this fall with a degree in Agriculture Communication and minors in Animal Science & Strategic Communication. She serves as the chapter’s 2nd Vice President and the By-law Chair.

Getting Down and Dirty

Let’s talk about sex. Plant sex, that is.

Yes, I know, plants don’t have sex, but the way in which they pollinate makes a lot more sense when we think about it in the same way we think about animal reproduction. For example, when you would like to have a calf, you will take a male and female bovine and put them in the same pen together. If everything goes as planned, the male will successfully deposit semen into the female; then, hopefully, their genetic information will combine to produce offspring.

Soybeans are much like cattle in the sense that there is a male and a female. When cross-pollinating, the female will be a node, or a little green bud on the soybean plant, while the male will be a broad, white or purple flower. Unlike cattle, both the male and female need to be stripped down in order to expose the female pistil and male anther. Then the male needs to be gently rubbed against the female to leave pollen behind. To have pollen soybeans need sunny skies and for the temperature to be above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though tedious, crossing soybeans has led to improvements in yield, disease resistance, and overall healthier plants. It allows for the recombination of genetics in order to result in a generation that is stronger, healthier and more productive than the previous. Professor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.

Soybeans have become incredibly popular. They are widely used as ingredients in foods such as ice cream treats, cereals, and baked goods. Many of these food products require different varieties of the soybean plant. For this reason, you will find me getting down and dirty in the field, cross pollinating soybean plants.

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The male part of the soybean plant. 

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rofessor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.

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Professor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.
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Yssi Cronquist is “Down and Dirty” featured writer. Yssi is an Animal Science major at NDSU. Her position in Sigma Alpha is Philanthropy Chairman. 

 

Everything’s Better with Butter

The Minnesota State Fair has tons of attractions. My family and I would go to the fair every year and walk around for hours. From the countless rides and booths to the food stands, there is always something to do. However, there is one feature that you won’t see anywhere else, and that is the Butter Booth. As a child I would walk up to the glass and watch the butter sculptures inside go around and around. Never did I dream that one day, one of the sculptures would be of me.

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12 finalists are chosen to run for Princess Kay of the Milky Way and one finalist is sculpted in butter each day of the State Fair, with Princess Kay being the first one. Linda Christensen has been creating these butter sculptures for 45 years. A sculpture is made out of a 90 pound block of butter and takes around 6-8 hours to complete. I was extremely excited the day I got carved. The experience was very surreal, and I barely noticed I was sitting in a freezer for hours. My time at the State Fair included talking to many children and adults about my experiences on our family’s farm and answered their questions about dairy. Being a “Butterhead” holds a true place in my heart, and I love to see who else gets to take part in this amazing tradition.

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I never would have been able to have this experience without the support from my family and friends.  Growing up on a dairy farm has given me the opportunity to understand that all days aren’t easy, but we keep going because it’s what we love.  I am honored to be able to share the passion that farmers have for what they do. Being a Dairy Princess lasts only a year or two, but being an advocate for the dairy community lasts forever. As for now, my sculpture is in our freezer, but once I get the heart to cut into it, I plan to share my butter sculpture with my community by having a corn feed.

In Sisterhood,
Kelly

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Kelly Schouviller is going to be a Junior this fall. Her major is Crop and Weed Science with a minor in Animal Science. Kelly is from Callaway, MN.