Sweet, Sweet Memories

Home again, after a fantastic trip to the Midwest. I’m glad to be home, so I can rest after such a busy educational week. This class has defiantly opened my eyes to how diverse agriculture can be. I knew that this trip would be educational, but I did not expect to have so much fun learning along the way. I learned something new at every stop, even if I was familiar with the subject. I think that the best part of the trip was the diversity in stops throughout the trip. I mean, I was really interested in visiting the Universities, yet I thought the sheep dairy was a nice twist form other stops. I had no idea sheep milk was such a popular commodity. Tasting the sheep cheese was interesting, I can say at the least, but I think I’ll stick with cheese made from cow milk. Something I learned on the trip, no surprise here!



My favorite stop by far was Triumph Foods. I’m not a pig person to start with, but to see the entire harvesting process was incredible. One of the students on the trip said it perfectly that we saw the whole process from “barn to box”. I am an Ag student and I know why we harvest animals in order to feed the world, but I will admit that seeing the live hogs one second and then turn around and see the same hogs hanging was slightly sad. I’m still glad we took an in depth tour because the processing plant was so large scaled that there would be no other way to really understand all the work that goes into just one hog. No waste either! Very impressive.


In conclusion, this class/trip was well worth me time and education. I would recommend any student to take this class if it offered in the future. The hands on experience can not be replaced and all the things we saw will forever be imbedded in our brains. A HUGE thank you goes out to Matt for putting this whole class together. He did a great job of keeping all the stops diverse. With the variety of majors that attended the trip, there was something for everyone. Hopefully this class will continue in the future and I think that visiting the South would be fun and even going to the North would be great. I truly believe that the Midwest has so much to offer that the class could go back to the Midwest and tour similar areas and not go to any of the same places.

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I hope those reading my blogs enjoyed what I’ve had to say. I obviously had a great time on this trip. Fall term starts next week and I am sad to see summer go, but I think this trip was a nice buffer to get back into the swing of things before classes start. Thanks again for following! Good luck to my fellow classmates in their fall classes. Go Beavs!




That’s all folks!

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Opportunities in Omaha

Well today was our last full day of tours for the 2015 Midwest Ag Tour. Today we only toured the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I know, a whole day spent at another university seems unnecessary but there was so much to see! We woke up early this morning so we could meet with the feedlot manager of UNL at the campus farm. Nebraska has the largest research beef cattle feedlot facility amongst all universities in the US. Nebraska’s campus farm is over 9,300 acres and holds over 2,500 head of cattle in the feedlot system. This alone was an overwhelming concept to grasp because not only is the University running a very large feedlot operation, but these calves in the feedlot are being studied for various reasons. One of the studies that I thought was worth mentioning was a heat detection trial. They are collecting data from how heat effects the digestive systems in beef cattle. No surprise, they have noticed that cattle do not handle heat well. I don’t blame them, I’m not comfortable in this humidity out here either!



After the feedlot we went to the East campus. Which is what Nebraska calls their department of agriculture. They have a whole campus for strictly Ag courses. An entire campus! The main campus or “City Campus” was a ten min bus ride away from the Ag school. We toured the plant science, animal science and food scienceĀ buildings. I really enjoyed the animal science building. Inside this one huge animal science building consisted a meat lab, fully equipped with all the coolers, saws and grinders needed to process beef, swine, sheep, and goat carcasses. They also had railing that went from the coolers to the classrooms directly so that students could have visual aids during some of the meat science lectures. The animal science building also had a full size riding arena with an eight horse stall barn attached. Then down the long… long….. hallway they had vet medicine research labs that had cattle, sheep and swine. All in the same building where the animal science classes were taught! Some classes even had room for the animals to be brought into the classroom for a variety of hands on lab practices. So jealous! Overall the animal science facilities were top of the line. Nebraska defiantly knows how to give students a hands on learning environment.

Last on the list was a tour of the tractor testing facility and of course the famous Nebraska football stadium. Both tours where amazing and I am very pleased that we added UNL to our tour list. It was well worth it!




Tomorrow we will be touring Claas combines and Union Pacific. Then we go our separate ways as we fly back home. What an amazing experience this entire trip has been. I am so happy that I enrolled in this class, I’ve seen and learned so much about a wide variety of agricultural practices in the Midwest. This is a trip I will never forget!

A special shoutout to our trip advisor Matt- Thank you so much for all of your hard work organizing such an amazing week! I hope this class will turn into a annual trip because I don’t think anyone can really appreciate everything we have learned over the past week without the full experience of being here in person. Thanks again!



Until we meet again.

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Interesting in Iowa

What a day….. To start the day off my mind was blown at 4K Farms and to finish the day my feet are shot from cruising around the Omaha Zoo. Long day!

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In the morning we headed out to 4K Farms. 4K Farms is a large show pig production farm. This is the home of Hillbilly Bone, one of the top show boars used nation wide. We started the tour off by watching a semen collection demonstration that was followed by a breeding demonstration. After we toured different pig barns on the farm. We started with week old piglets in farrowing crates then moved to the growing barns where the piglets are weaned from their moms and started on grain diets. Next we saw the finishing barns but we were only allowed to look inside this barn, not step foot inside due to the recent pig transmitted diseases that are hitting the pig industry lately. I thought the visit to 4K Farms was very interested and I learned a lot about pig breeding. Pig breeding seems to be much less labor in comparison to breeding cattle by hand. Overall I thought the tour was fun and the quality of genetics at 4K Farms made the visit that much better because we were looking at some of the best swine genetics in the industry. Their breeding stock was very impressive!





We then drove about an hour to Omaha, Nebraska. We had a free day at the Omaha Zoo! The Omaha Zoo was huge! There was a very cool desert and swamp exhibit. We even saw some beavers. GO BEAVS! They didn’t seem to care about are excitement though.. Rhinos and giraffes are always really fun to see, but the zoo was under some construction so they didn’t have any elephants or zebras. Bummer!


I still enjoyed walking around to all the different animals, but I’m even more excited about sitting in the hotel room writing this blog.Only two days left of the first Midwest Ag Tour. Time sure goes by fast when you are having fun!

Until we meet again.

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St. Joe Round Two

Today we visited Shatto Dairy and Schweiver Orchards. The first stop at Shatto Dairy was not at all what I had in mind. I’ve been to a few dairies, but Shatto Dairy was impressive. They run over 300 head at their dairy and they spend Tuesday through Saturday giving tours of their operation to the public. We had the chance to see the inside of their milking parlor and milk a cow by hand ourselves!

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Shatto Dairy is known for their many flavors of milk. Some including banana, cotton candy, chocolate and root beer. In fact, their root beer flavored milk was awarded number one in the nation. Very cool! My favorite was the cookies and cream flavor. Yum! They also made ice creams and cheeses, as well as cute cooking and clothing apparel. After tasting the milk and cheese we took a special tour to the cow barns where they showed us how they feed and manage their dairy cows. Of course we stopped by all the calving huts to pet the babies. How could we not?! The overall tour was very different from other dairies I’ve visited before and I’m glad, because it’s always cool to see new things and of course the flavored milk was a must see.



The second stop was at Shweiver Orchards. This was my favorite stop of the day because our tour guide was the owner of the orchards and he was very personable as well as interested in the West’s agricultural practices. Some students on the trip come from tree farming backgrounds so it was really cool to listen as they shared different farming techniques with him. We took a tour of a smaller portion of his farm and it turned out that it was not simply an apple orchard. They harvest apples, pumpkins, vegetables, peaches, multiple berries, corn, soybean and christmas trees! It was a really incredible operation. To top it all off the small farm we toured, in a couple weeks they will be giving hay rides, open their pumpkin patches and mazes to the public. They had their hands full, no doubt.



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After both tours we ate lunch and then took a little side detour to Kansas City. We went to the American Royal, which is a national show convention for livestock. We watched the National Quarter Horse show for a little bit and then looked at the Kansas City Livestock Exchange building. Kansas City is full of history in regards to agriculture livestock marketing. To end the day we enjoyed some famous Kansas City BBQ. The food was outstanding! Tomorrow we head to our final destination, Omaha!







Until we meet again.


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St. Joe Style

Early bird gets the worm! Today was a long day… But a great one to remember. We started off the day by taking a tour at Triumph Foods. At this processing plant we had the amazing opportunity to experience an exclusive inside tour of how a billion dollar business harvests a little over 21,000 head of swine in a single 24 hour period. At this plant I think I can speak for my fellow class mates, as we were all overwhelmed with the sure quantity of Triumph Foods’ operation. We saw the kill floor from start to finish and the processing of all the cuts of pork to the boxes they were packaged into. Triumph Foods works really hard at keeping their livestock calm before slaughter and they actually use carbon dioxide chambers to render them unconscious. This is a 90 second process that leaves the pigs brain dead, allowing the entire harvesting process to be the done safely and humanly. All in all, I was extremely impressed with the entire operation. I wish “nay sayers” would really give harvesting plants the opportunity to see how well managed livestock harvesting can be. I thought I knew what to expect before going on the tour and I still was amazed with what we saw!


Our second stop was at Green Dirt Farms, a sheep dairy. This was a small scale farm that was out of the ordinary. I appreciated the change from what we had seen from the last couple of tours. The sheep dairy was very similar to a usual cattle dairy. We also had the chance to taste different sheep cheeses that they make on the farm. I personally do not like trying new things. Being honest. I was brave and tried all of the different blends of sheep cheeses. I will say I am not a fan, but some girls fell in love and I thought that was really cool we could all try new tastes. I suggest trying their products, just to say you did.


The final tour of the day was with Lewis Seeds and Monsanto Field Plots. We looked at different soybean and corn crops that are being studied for their different traits in regards to RoundUp ready plants. This stop was fun because we had the chance to ask the speakers some one on one questions about both crops. Since we are not from the Midwest, obviously, it was nice to be able to “pick their brains” about how their farmers harvest both soybean and corn crops. The most interesting challenge they talked about was how strange their weather patterns have been this year and how the weather has really effected their growing season. I thought it was very interesting that their biggest problem this year was that they were getting TOO MUCH RAIN!!!! It was really interesting to hear their side of the changing weather pattern complaints. Hopefully the West Coast can take this extra rain off their hands!



Before I forget, the best part of today was that we went to St. Joe Boot. Which was a western clothing store that we put under attack with all 17 girls on this trip! The store owners are very happy we stopped to say hello. I am having a great time with everyone on this trip and tomorrow we have a lighter day, so it looks like we might have some free time to explore the state!

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Until we meet again.

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Cheerful in Columbia

What an awesome day in Columbia, Missouri! Today we had only two stops, but they were absolutely amazing. Our first stop was at Purina Mills Research Farm. I was thoroughly impressed with their facilities on site. We took a tour bus and visited the equine, beef, dairy and companion animal centers. They had a swine unit on cite, but due to the easily transmitted diseases through swine around the nation we could not visit the swine directly. All the facilities were very well presented so that we could really see and understand the quality of work that goes into creating the best nutritional products to different species. My favorite stop was the horse performance barn where they showed us the horse size treadmill that is used to collect data off of the horses as they move through different gates.


The second stop was at University of Missouri. Talk about an Ag school… Their campus farm consists of over 1,800 acres, which includes dairy, swine, equine, beef cattle and different crop productions. My favorite stop was the beef cattle center. They run about 500 head of cattle on the farm and have a fully operating feedlot system that can hold about 600 head of cattle. What was really interesting is that for the past ten years the University of Missouri has been using a no roughage diets. Studies have showed that cattle use too much energy trying to breakdown hay, so by eliminating this the calves are gaining more efficiently and producing 40% less waste. Hard to believe because I have always thought that ruminants require roughage for their digestive system to work. In fact researchers have found that they can work around this so called issue and for last ten years they have seen to significant problems. Mind blowing!

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Their feedlot also uses the very fancy data collecting technology “Grow Safe”. These systems are top of the line for collecting data on how all the calves eat and drink individually. They can estimate weight of the calves on daily basis and also detect illness in the calves up to two day early before physical signs of sickness are shown. All together today was a great day! The campus was awesome and their Ag facilities were phenomenal! I knew we were touring the farming capital of the world, but actually being here and seeing it all in person was a true honor. I can’t wait to see more throughout the trip!

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Until we meet again.

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Success in St. Louis

We made it to the Midwest! Today was our first full day of tours and I have to admit I’m wiped out. We started the day out going to the Court House and some of us got a really cool inside tour of the Circuit Court room. A few students even had their picture taken with a black robe on in the judges chair! Next we walked to the Arch for our trip up the Arch to it’s 630ft top. That was an experience that I will never forget. It is truly amazing how the engineers built that big beautiful “Gateway to the West”. Also included was a Riverboat tour. The boat tour was nice to learn more about the history also. Took some fancy photos off the boat as well!


Our final tour was to Monsanto Research Center. This was the first of many Ag related tours we have yet to encounter on this trip and I have to say it was a great start! I loved our tour guide, he was very informational and I learned a lot. He was what made the tour fun and that’s always a plus!


I didn’t know much about Monsanto before this trip and now after learning so much I feel like I’m an expert. Maybe not. But Monsanto’s research center has devoted their time to gene sequence of different agriculture crops. They basically find the best genes for their seeds and produce the best plants possible. They study the specific proteins made from different sequences of genes in the seed, allowing them to eliminate the guessing game of waiting for a crop to fully develop and record its physical qualities. Monsanto also makes their own processing machines, such as their seed chippers, which their engineers designed. We had the chance to watch the seed chippers work and then we took home free souvenirs of chipped seeds. YAY! Free stuff!



Monsanto, sadly, has a bad reputation for creating harsh chemicals that farmer put on their crops to deal with insects or weeds. I learned today that these are not chemicals, but instead throughly studied proteins from the gene sequencing that has effects on bugs. These GMO plants (genetically modified) are not harmful to all species, only to the specific protein that id directed towards the problem at hand. Monsanto’s goal is to create products to allow farmers to maintain sustainable agricultural. As a quote from today’s guide, “we are building the parents for the next generation”. Great day today, tomorrow is full of more fun!


Until we meet again.

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Let the Games Begin!

We are a little over 24 hours away from the 2015 Midwest Ag Tour. The clock is finally winding down. I have been over the trip schedule of events and I have to say we have one busy week ahead of us! I don’t know which day I’m most excited for, but I do know that we will have a lot of information thrown at us. So this got me thinking about what would be the best way to retain all of it. First, I thought note taking would be the best way, but I don’t think carrying around a pen a paper would be the most efficient. I don’t want to be rushing to write down things while missing other information. Also, I was thinking that note taking probably would not be the most professional. If I were giving these tours I would not want a group of students just staring at their notebooks, scrambling to write down half of what I have to say. I want to be prepared so I’m not overwhelmed with all of the new information we will be learning.

notetaking (1)To be most efficient and stay in check with what we learn on all the tours I will keep a small notebook with me and write down all of the important aspects of every single tour immediately after the speakers are finished. This will also help me keep up with the class assignments throughout the week. Along with keeping small tabs, I will try my best to take pictures when allowed. I want to remember all of the places we visit on this trip and of course I want to brag about how awesome my trip was to all my friends and family when I return home! So a warning to all of my friends going on this trip, I will be the annoying tourist like person taking all of the ridiculous photos.


I am feeling mixed emotions before starting this journey. At first I was feeling a little nervous and slightly paranoid, just because I have to finish packing and make sure I have everything necessary for making my flights go as smoothly as possible. I always worry about the little things before anything even goes wrong. I know that once I land in St. Louis I will find the rest of the group and I’ll be able to breathe again. I’ve been in contact with some friends of mine that will be accompanying me on this tour and we are all feeling the same about arriving, but I know that once we all get together we will have so much fun. We are all excited to be the first group to go on this tour and even though we are the “guinea pigs” we know that the trip will be a once in a lifetime experience that we will remember forever. Here we go, let the adventures in the Midwest begin!


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Until we meet again.

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Midwest and Me

Holy Cow! Where did the summer go? I can’t believe we are just a week away from going on the very first ever, Midwest Ag Tour! I am so excited to see all of the awesome stops we have planned on this trip. My expectations for this tour are extremely high, but I have a good feeling that the Midwest will live up to it!


When I think about agriculture in the Midwest all I can think about is that these farms and different agriculture based operations are the true varsity players in the Ag world. I can’t wait to see all of their hard work in action and of course the country side! I know I will miss my mountains, but I think I can survive a week without them. Maybe…

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I am new to the blogging world so bear with me throughout this adventure. I know that this tour is going to be an eye opening learning experience and I honestly can’t wait! Only 7 more days and counting! Goodness, I should probably start packing.



Until we meet again!

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