2015 Midwest Ag Tour; the inaugural editon


Last couple days = fast and furious
September 17, 2015, 3:16 am
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Sorry I haven’t posted since Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were a blur with activity. We started with visit of the feedlot at the ARDEC Center  for the University of Nebraska. Amazing to see their confined cow herd and studies centered around E. Coli control in the feedlot. Next we got tours of the Ag-Business and Animal Sciences programs at their East Campus. UNL is interesting in that that whole College of Ag and Natural Resources has its own campus separate from their main campus. We got a rundown of the only tractor testing lab in the entire USA. Amazing use of tech and ingenuity used to insure that companies are honest and can prove what they actually do. We finished the day with a tour of UNL’s athletic facilities and got to actually run out on the football field of stadium that holds over 90,000 every game.

Tuesday we visited Claas Combine factory and got to see the assembly process of the elite combine. They have options in their machines that include tracks instead of front wheels and refrigerator in the cab!!! We finished the trip with a meeting with Union Pacific and meet the the executive team that works in their ag products division. The number one comment from students is didn’t believe how much they do and that they were then just trains!!! In fact a couple of students now have reached out to me about contacting them for internships and/or jobs.

Afterwards we headed to airport and said see you laters as we will see each other next week when school starts. It was a once in lifetime trip for everyone involved including me. The overwhelming response is that OSU needs to do more of these to help show students what they can do with their education and the opportunities available. 2015-09-14 07.36.36 2015-09-14 16.30.12 2015-09-15 12.39.592015-09-14 17.19.21



The boar, the myth, the legend!!!!
September 14, 2015, 3:09 am
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Today on the 13th, we visited 4K Farms, the home of Hillbilly Bone. To those of us in show pig world, he’s a amazing boar that has been popular for producers over the last 3-4 years. I explained to students how much it meant to me to actually see the boar that is traced to so many champions throughout the nation. But the better part of the day was the chance to learn from the legendary Kirk Swanson. In my opinion, you’ll never meet a more out-going, knowledgeable, and kind man. As we toured his families swine operation, he taught students not about just pigs but life. They loved his compassion about his friends and how he values those around him. The students weren’t the only ones learning as I learned new things also about pigs and management. He’s one of a kind and if anyone ever gets the chance, don’t be afraid to stop by his place and learn!!!

We also saw the Omaha Zoo and got the chance to see the shrine to Rosenblatt Stadium in which the Beaver baseball team won back to back national championships in 2006 and 2007. They still have foul poles up and mini park that symbolizes the field.

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Root Beer Milk, BBQ, and apples
September 14, 2015, 2:55 am
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Saturday the 12th was great day to be MO as it was sunny, warm, yet not too hot. Shatto dairy was refreshing as it showed what hard work and ingenuity can do. They bottle all their own milk, make cheese curds and butter. The best part is all the different flavors they’ve created for milk: root-beer, strawberry, classic chocolate, cookies and cream, banana, and cotton candy!! They were extremely popular with students. Next we visited Schweitzer Orchards which does both commercial and u-pick. It was interesting to see how their production as been impacted by the wet summer they’ve had and all. Also the students got a kick out all the different things they do ranging from Christmas trees to apples to vegetables to hay rides. Great 5th generation operation that is going strong. Lastly we finished the day enjoying Kansas City. We visited the remnants of the KC stockyards and toured the Livestock Exchange Building. Also the American Royal grounds but most importantly enjoyed some authentic KC BBQ.

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Glow in the what???
September 12, 2015, 4:40 am
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Day 3 in MO brought us to Purina Research farms and University of Missouri. Purina was extremely interesting to me especially since i love to study animal nutrition and what it all involves. Even though we were not allowed to take pictures throughout most of tour, it was amazing to see all thoughts and research they have behind their products. Also all the time they have put into making it productive farm and making sure they can relate to their customers is great. They did allow us to take some pictures of bucks they have mounted that were fed their AntlerMax product. Non-typical bucks but still amazing!!!

We visited the University of Missouri in the afternoon in which we got to see what another campus. The looks on our students as they explored what other campuses offer or have was good. Some even made comments they should transfer (it was cause of #3 ranked Rec Center that was amazing). I told them it was a bad reason to transfer!!! But the best part was watching their reaction to seeing a glow in the dark pig. The reason for it is the glowing is a gene they are working with, say a cancer gene, they tag the gene with ability to glow, so they can see if it is passed on. Also I became jealous when I saw their teaching farm for swine, a great facility that works great to show stuff off with out huge bio-security risk due to windows and observation hallways.

Fun facts: Cracker Barrel offers the best comfort food, Tiger stripe ice cream was amazing at Mizzou, and Doris has a rough transmission!!

 



Different World??
September 12, 2015, 4:14 am
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I think the main point of this trip, to show students what agriculture and life is like outside of Oregon is really setting in. Every night I recap with students what the day was like, what they liked or disliked. Every time is that the this day was better in some shape or from then the last. Tonight at dinner, one student thanked me for making sure was a wide variety of stuff on the tour and how we are seeing all aspects.

Today we toured Triumph Foods, the newest hog kill plant in the US. It was amazing how efficient they are in killing and processing over  21000 hogs in day. They incorporate technology in all aspects and how many employees they have (1500 people). The meat disassemble process they have made makes it amazing and how animal welfare and food safety are the highest concerns. Second we saw Green Dirt Farm, a sheep dairy, that specializes in cheese making. Their sheep are milked for 8 months a year due to them being seasonal breeders and listening to their concern about customer satisfaction. Our students enjoyed the cheeses they offered for tasting and in fact some are going to purchase them online and have it shipped to home. Last we visited a Monsanto sponsored field plot with some field reps and helped complete the learning from Wednesday at research facility in Chesterfield. It was great to see the students connect the dots on the 2 different tours. Also for those that have not seem soybeans in real life plus the equipment used to harvest corn and soybeans was astounding to see them ask more questions.

Fun facts: Girls loved the impromptu stop at boot store into which we probably spent close to $2000 or more. I know I’ll be blamed for some credit card bills. I got to visit a Taco Johns (not found in OR) in which I indulged myself greatly!!!

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Day one= GREAT Start
September 10, 2015, 3:47 am
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Day one we started with the traditional tourist stuff that most would do when visiting St. Louis, MO. We started the day by visiting the Old Courthouse. We checked out the old town hall center room, and looked at the artifacts and paintings. But then a park ranger was willing to take a portion of us to actually get a “behind the scenes” look  at the actual courtroom in which Dred and Harriet Scott were given freedom. We actually sat behind the judges bench, checked out the jury room, and judge’s quarters.

Next we were off to see the Gateway Arch and saw all 630 feet high!! The trams scared some students due their small size but they overcame their fear of heights and saw what the view was like. Students that were afraid said it was a once in lifetime experience. The riverboat tour was disappointing and I would not recommend it to someone really wanting learn more about life on the Mississippi.

What to some maybe the highlight of day would be the Arch, I would think for our students it would be the Monsanto tour we received. It was amazing to see they made crops yield more, be more resistant to insects and disease, and benefit the world. It was really interesting to how they are working to benefit the environment but still help farmers feed the world. We saw their use of technology in DNA sequencing and machinery manufacturing that helps them create new tech/crops using hydro jets and 3D printers. To me to actually see how they take genetic engineering to actually crops growing in their growth chambers and greenhouses was showing the complete cycle.

Fun Notes: Don’t always trust your GPS, we drive Doris the Boris minivan, and most of all, Blake (the other male on the trip) and myself look like we are traveling with sorority so we are referred to by all ladies in group as the house mom (me) and house boy (Blake).  11363851_872630406158838_1990616187_n



And we’re off!!!
September 8, 2015, 4:34 pm
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Here’s to the first day of the trip!!! All of the students are an airport or already in flight to St Louis. Once we arrive, we’ll hurry to grab our bags, get our minivans ( yes minivans, we’ll look like a bunch of soccer moms) and get to the hotel. Quickly check-in the hotel and head to watch the Cardinals vs. Cubs.

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I’m a huge baseball fan so I’m excited to start this trip with a bang. Two of the oldest clubs in all of baseball and they are both in the playoff hunt. Should be a great game but even better experience for our students throughout the whole trip. This has come together in last 2 weeks and I’m excited to open our students minds to what agriculture and life is like outside the Pacific NW.



Starting to come together
August 19, 2015, 7:54 pm
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Well as I sit here and type this post, we under a month from heading to St. Louis to begin our Midwest Ag Tour. I’m working hard to setup all of our stops and just waiting for people to call me back to finalize all of our stops. Half of trip is planned as we are visiting Purina Mills research farm, a Sheep Dairy (yes I said sheep dairy!!!), a regular dairy that does all it’s own marketing and products (Shatto), a large scale hog (4K Farms)  and soybean farm, and University of Missouri also. I really think this be an eye opening trip for everyone. I’m amazed at the generosity of people that want to show a group of students from OSU about how agriculture is like in the Midwest. I owe my peers/contacts at Missouri a big thanks for helping fill in the holes of the schedule where I’m having a hard time getting people to call me back!!!

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Can’t believe this happening
June 17, 2015, 1:27 am
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This trip is actually going to happen!!! When I went to meet Associate Dean Dr. Penny Diebel earlier this school year, I wasn’t sure if this was actually a good idea and if what was at possible. That initial meeting went extremely well and my idea started to take shape. First I have to thank Dr. Bryon Weigand from the University of Missouri for sharing this idea with that they do similar to this there.

It makes perfect sense to me. Many of our own students here at Oregon State have never seem what agriculture is like in areas outside of Oregon’s borders. I got my eyes opened to how different agriculture is when I moved here to Corvallis for bachelor’s degree. I grew up in Casper, Wyoming

 

 

on a alfalfa/corn/oats/barley farming operation that also had 300 head of commercial cows. I participated in 4-H/FFA showing beef, sheep and swine. I thought that was all that agriculture was. Then in the fall of 2003,

 

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OSU and the Willamette Valley showed me differently with blueberries, hops, hazelnuts, and much more. The different conditions in which the animals are raised also puzzled me with all the rain, mud, and no snow but also seeing grass maintain the color green nearly all year. Growing up grass was only green from March through June due to drought like conditions almost every year.

I’m very excited to open students minds, curiosity, and possibilities to what agriculture life is like outside of Oregon or wherever else they are from!!!