Understand Your Limits

I was just like any other kid when they started looking into colleges. I was nervous, I didn’t know if I should believe what everyone was saying and I wasn’t sure if I would even like where I decided to go. From the moment you are even told about college, you are bombarded with information. It can range from faculty to the campus map or from classes to take to clubs to join. Now I may not be like the typical student that did student council in high school or was super involved in the French club or choir or band. I was the kid that had one really good friend to hang out with and who worked 30+ hours a week in while in school. I thought this was enough but somewhere deep down I knew I was missing out on something.

Being someone who does the bare minimum wasn’t working out for me. I wanted to go on class trips or volunteer at the food shelf. Everyone always made it look like it was so much fun. That’s when I decided college was going to be different. I wanted to be a part of more than just a typical college part time job and thankfully I was forced to.

AGRI 189. Pretty much any freshman (who hadn’t brought in credits from high school) had to take this class. It was almost like NDSUs personal college for dummies book. My teacher was Loren Baranko and if anyone knows her, she will make sure you have fun in her class. One of our assignments was to go to the fall organization fair that happens outside the union. This fair showcases the clubs NDSU has to offer and helps students basically find their “in” on campus. Now I had never really seen myself as a sorority girl. I thought had maybe participating in Greek life but then a new opportunity presented itself to me, Sigma Alpha, Sisters in Agriculture. I thought what a perfect fit and it has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made.


I have been involved in other activities like Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, ND Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Saddle and Sirloin. All of these clubs have helped me enjoy my college career so much more but it hasn’t come without some struggle. Like I mentioned I wasn’t an active student in high school other than working so I decided to make up for it in college. While yes I have enjoyed all of these organizations I realized I am not Wonder Woman. I have to learn to prioritize and say no when I know that school needs to be a priority.


That being said I would never want to discourage anyone coming to college from join an organization or two, I only want to advise that you definitely learn or already possess time management skills. Joining these organizations have only helped me and given me the greatest experiences I could have asked for!


In Sisterhood,


Samantha is a Senior majoring in Agribusiness with minors in Animal Science and Business Administration. She is currently Alumni Liaison and Social Chair.

Taking a Step Back

As the semester wraps up, it can be easy to get caught up in projects, studying, and work. But it’s important to take a step back, relax, and enjoy every moment you have left because it goes way too fast.

This April has been a particularly tough time for my family. I recently lost my great aunt which was followed by my uncle only a few days later. Death happens at the most inconvenient times. I was particularly busy with school and work and truly couldn’t afford to miss a day. I had to stop and remind myself what was really important. Hardships like this remind us to slow down and enjoy every day.


I was surrounded by an overwhelming amount of support from my Sigma sisters, especially the ones I have been blessed to live with. The friends that you meet in college end up being so much more than friends. They really do become your family.

Death has a funny way of putting things into perspective. It reminds you to take a chance, to go on that crazy spring break road trip, and overall to just take a step back from the chaos and enjoy what you have.

As cliché as it is: live every moment to the fullest. 

As I reflect on the semester I can’t believe how fast it went. I can’t believe how not ready I am to say “see ya later” to the graduating seniors, or to not spend every day with the roommates who became family. It’s never easy to say goodbye to loved ones, but it makes us cherish every moment with the ones we still have.

So, a big thank you to the girls who put up with me, take care of me, and make me laugh until I cry (pretty much on the daily). There’s absolutely no way I would make it through college without my Sigma Alpha sisters.


In loving Memory of Tim Corcoran and Sherron Quiring



In Sisterhood,


Erin is a junior majoring in Equine Science with minors in Ag Business and Animal Science. Currently, she is serving as the Sigma Alpha Recruitment Chair.

Life Isn’t a Pinterest Board

Admit it, we’ve all done it – wished our lives were a Pinterest board. Where they are filled with succulents, farmhouse signs/ decorations, and guides to working out. I am entirely guilty of this. Scrolling through this app, life begins to look idealistic and simple, when in reality it’s a jumbled mess. If only money wasn’t an issue and creativity was endless, a Pinterest lifestyle could be feasible.

Recently I decided to decorate. I searched “TV stand decorations,” and I came across this picture:


I loved it! Immediately I figured I would make a trip to Hobby Lobby and create this at home. After many trips up and down the same aisles, I walked out with one thing – a metal container. This was to create a succulent planter… check! Next, I needed candle holders. Well, I made a second trip to Hobby Lobby and I walked out with that as well. However, I struggled along the way. It was difficult to use my creativity to exemplify what the picture showed. Finding décor such as flowers, woven baskets, and other decorations was nearly impossible. My patience ran out and I began to look at the picture and got frustrated. My expectations did not meet reality.

I took a deep breathe and thought to myself, life isn’t a Pinterest board. Fill your life with uniqueness that suites you. Don’t base your lifestyle and actions on filtered photos.

However, Pinterest is a great start to begin brainstorming even better ideas or just for inspiration. Many have found this app useful – finding delicious recipes, decoration ideas, and workout exercises.

Though our TV stand is not finished, it is a work in progress. Piece by piece it will become my own version of perfect.


Now, just remember to take in life and make it your own. Don’t base it off of a Pinterest lifestyle filled with photoshopped pictures. Build your own life – it’s beautiful.


In sisterhood,



Thanks for the Memories

When I transferred to North Dakota State University, I never thought of getting involved. I only became a part of the Saddle and Sirloin club, but that was it. I thought laying low and getting done with school would be the best option for me. Well after starting a few classes within the first two semesters (more so struggling in them), and meeting friends that were in those classes. I met two individuals that were a part of a sorority and they encouraged me to try something new. So that next fall, I took their advice and rushed Sigma Alpha.

I started Sigma Alpha six semesters ago and it has done nothing but help me with building life skills, gaining more lifelong friends/connections, and guiding me to my future endeavors. I never thought a sorority would have this much of an impact on my life until I took a step back and looked at how much everyone has grown and come together.


Throughout the past six semesters, I have gained a big sister, little sister, two grand-little sisters, and one great grand-little sisters. This family is not as large as some families, but it has to be one of the best ones I could ever be a part of. I cannot wait to watch them grow as individuals and accomplish all of life’s plans for them! I am so happy and proud of each and everyone of you!

“Individually Unique, Together Complete” is exactly how I would describe every single woman in this sorority. No two girls are the same and being unique is what has created one of the best environments I have surrounded myself in for the past three years.



My advice to girls is to GET INVOLVED! Even if its not a sorority, get involved. This is the only 3-4 years of your life to meet new people and learn new things. Use all your resources! I went from being in one club to four by the end of my undergraduate career and it was well worth it!

To the girls of Sigma Alpha, thank you for all the late-night fun, the weekend trips, and random times together that have built more memories that I will never forget! You all are wonderful and will do remarkable things! Thanks for the memories!


In Sisterhood,



Great Plains Food Bank

One of Sigma Alpha’s community philanthropy events is volunteering at the Great Plains Food Bank.  The Great Plains Food Bank is located here in Fargo, North Dakota and is the only food bank distributor for the entirety of the state.  They are planning on building another food bank in Bismarck, North Dakota to serve as the western distributor in the state.


Last year, almost 100,000 people in North Dakota received food assistance.  There are just over 750,000 residents in North Dakota. In North Dakota, about 1 in 9 people are going hungry, but about 1 in 6 kids are going hungry.

North Dakota is the only state that can predict when hunger will end in the state! They predict that hunger will end in the year 2037.  They can predict this with the average increasing population and with how many people they reach out to.


The food bank has a backpack program for kids.  They bring food into schools and distribute it to children that teachers recommend for the program.  This program helps kids get through the weekend.  They are also starting a family backpack program.

The food bank receives its products through food drives and through local businesses donating food.  Many farmers in the area grow crops just to donate to the food bank, especially potatoes.  However, the food bank prefers to get hygiene products for donations.  Their thinking behind this is if people can smell and look good, they will be able to get a job.

In Sisterhood,


Hailey DuBord – Crop and Weed Science

Chance to Change

I grew up learning to be a rule-follower with not much skill in thinking outside the box. It was, and is, ingrained as part of a good work ethic and being a good person by my family. It could be that it is just my nature, my personality, as a genetic mix from my parents. At any rate, my dreams in high school for my life and career changed over time and went way outside the box.

Toward the end of high school, I selected a college degree plan and career that required only three years of education. The truth was, my real goal was to marry my high school sweetheart and dearest friend, but knew a degree was in my best interest. Separation from my family and fiancé by hundreds of miles and time during college only strengthened my desire to get the degree and get out of there to start with life. You may be able to relate. I focused on being a good student to ease my loneliness and succeeded. We got married and I began my career as a dental hygienist within a week of getting married and moving to another state. All went as planned and I have absolutely no regrets.

After several years of living, having children, and being fulfilled personally, I found my career excitement lacking. I had worked fourteen years as a hygienist when I decided to take a few more evening and summer courses to complete my B.S. degree requirements while moving in a completely different career direction. This happened after attending a Grazing Management course in which I had enrolled my husband. He couldn’t make it and I begged off work to go. That event changed everything.

After two years, the decision finally had to be made—all required courses at my local college had been completed. The next step was to quit my full time, long-term position and return to college with a 75 mile one-way commute, 5 days/week. I jumped in with the support of my husband and family. The goal was to complete my B.S. in two years and work in animal agriculture. I simply loved this college experience and grabbed every opportunity available. I still did not have a clear direction as graduation approached and was offered a M.S., Animal Science, with a focus on Ruminant Nutrition. Of course I accepted. What’s another 2 or 3 years? Ha!

Fast forward….got the M.S., worked very hard managing a grass-fed beef and lamb business, from farm to plate. Trial by fire and I loved it, but the business partnership failed after a few years. I bounced back into dental hygiene and learned to enjoy adjunct teaching at our local dental hygiene program in addition to clinical hygiene in my old practice. I had given up on a career in agriculture and was content. No one could ever take my education away and my experiences, and cattle photos in the operatory, led to some interesting conversations.

Life has a way of making us face choices when we least expect it. It was necessary for me to get a M.S. degree in dental hygiene to become full-time faculty. I did not feel compelled, nor had the love for dental hygiene even close to what I felt for animal agriculture. I decided against a lateral move degree. A discussion over lunch with a dear former professor helped land me into a Ph.D. program so quickly I did not have time for second thoughts. Further studies in Animal Science with a focus on Food Animal Wellbeing was never on my radar as a possibility. Some decisions are simply not our own and I had to go with the path provided me.

Three years and a dissertation later, a post-doctoral program closer to home allowed for me to apply my grazing management skills at a USDA Agricultural Research Service station working on a grass-fed beef project. It was comfortable, rewarding, in a beautiful location, but still missing the fast-pace of industry that I desired. A referral by an acquaintance professor to a colleague at Applegate Natural and Organic Meats was unexpected. I could not have written a better job description to match my career goals. I was extremely fortunate to land the position and it is simply my Dream Job. The “honeymoon” is close to 3 years and counting, and I still love my job and career. I still dearly love my husband of 33 years, our children and extended family, including our first grandchild. I am fully blessed.

Keep your options and your thoughts open. Be nice to your professors and other faculty. If you find yourself in a position that is not fulfilling, look to other areas or even fields. Consider that our desires can change as we learn and grow, and that is acceptable. Many skills apply to other areas. Instead of human (oral) wellbeing, I now focus on food animal wellbeing and helping to insure they are raised with respect and care. Most of the animals don’t talk back, so it’s a one-sided conversation—often like with dental patients! Wishing you success.

Michelle L. Thomas, Ph.D.

Applegate Animal Welfare Manager

Animal Scientist

There’s More to Ag

When you think of Ag Week what do you think about? Sows, plows, and cows? Agriculture is a booming, yet dying industry and Ag Week is our week to advocate for the field that we love. Agriculture is more than just sows, plows, and cows, it’s also kindness and generosity. It’s putting the community before your own needs. So many farmers and ranchers barely make a profit each year, but continue to stay in the industry because they have a true passion for what they do and it’s that drive and passion I see in others that encourages me to continue in their footsteps.

When I tell others that I’m majoring in Animal Science, their immediate question to me is, “Oh, you’re going to be a veterinarian?” Until I started college, I didn’t realize there’s so many branches of agriculture that don’t involve raising crops, cattle, or becoming a veterinarian. Here at NDSU, you have so many options to choose from within the college of agriculture. You can become a meat scientist and help improve the quality, tenderness, or wholesomeness of meat products. You could also choose to become a meat inspector and ensure safe handling and sanitation is being done in meat packing plants. If you want to learn all there is to know about crop production and either go into crop sales, production, or research to improve future crops, you can. There are students going for agricultural education, zoology, or genetics.

My point isn’t to advocate for you to attend college, but rather, that there are so many people that may have a desk job but are still in the agricultural industry. We need each branch of agriculture to operate efficiently, to feed the country, and in turn feed the world. If we didn’t have the meat scientists, we would have less delicious meat products, be at higher risk of consuming contaminated product, and therefore at higher risk of disease. If we didn’t have the geneticists, we would have less efficient cattle which would lead to lower production per head, which would lead to the agriculture industry needing more land and cities couldn’t expand as fast as they are.  I challenge you to look around your community and thank that USDA inspector or the receptionist at your local Farm Service Agency. Agriculture is everywhere and I’m very proud of it.

In Sisterhood,


Sigma Alpha Fall 2017-0222
Savannah Fisher – Animal Science