Last blog entry :(



I’ve now been home for a couple days and am getting used to the time change back! The first day I woke up back home it felt weird to not get in the van and go on a tour somewhere.

This trip has been incredible and very educational; things I learned on this trip will stick with me and I think it was a lot of things that I wouldn’t have learned in a class room. Over the time of the trip, I have gotten to know a lot of great people and I have learned a lot.

This trip has changed the way I look at everything. When I was at the store getting milk I thought of the milking parlors, the dairy cows, and the operations (and I wished there was cotton candy milk available). But also various companies at home I’ve thought about what a tour there would be like.

I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity; seeing different aspects to agriculture in different parts of the U.S. is really cool. Checking out agriculture in other countries would be awesome but it’s a much more expensive option so I’m glad this opportunity of staying in the U.S became available. I really hope this trip continues because there are so many things to learn about agriculture in our own country that you just have to be there and experience.

Looking back I can’t even narrow down to even my top 5 favorites because I really enjoyed them all. However, I think my #1 is Triumph Foods; I couldn’t believe how much we were able to see of the process. We saw everything from when the hogs walked in to different cuts of meat being packaged. I had never seen anything like that before and it was very informational.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Matt for even making this trip possible. I’m sure picking out imageplaces to go and getting it all scheduled was not easy but Matt did a great job and I would say we all appreciated it and really enjoyed this trip!

I would definitely do this trip again and I would strongly recommend it to others also. There are a lot of things to be learned by seeing it and listening to the owners of each company.

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Day 8

On our last day we had to be at the airport by noon but we still managed to get two tours in this morning- really making the most of it!

First we went to Claas Combines; they are a German company and the parts are manufactured in imageGermany but the combines are assembled at the place we visited. Claas sells deluxe combines; they even have a mini fridge in the cab along with chilled seats. They make a lot of their combines with tracks which was interesting to me because it’s something I’ve never seen on a combine before. The tracks help prevent as much soil compaction and do well on hills and in different weather conditions. Weigh 40,000 lbs and can be pulled around the shop

We rushed over to Union Pacific where we got to listen to a presentation by the head guys in the agriculture department at UP. I actually learned a lot from this and I’m really glad we were able to go. I didn’t realize how much the railroad is still used to haul things ranging from produce to parts for all sorts of things. The railroad uses 4 times less fuel than trucks but it is best used for long distance trips and for heavy loads. They don’t haul livestock anymore because of the liability and having to go through the heat in Arizona and it was becoming not economically feasible. This was definitely an experience I’m glad I got to partake in and I definitely learned a lot.

imageAfter UP we headed out to the airport to return our mini vans and our group became smaller and smaller as people boarded to head back home. Eventually we all headed out on our flights home. I’m typing while I’m up in the air (posting will be delayed a day) and I still have a couple more hours until PDX and then an hour drive home. It has been an AMAZING week but I can’t wait to be home!!

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Day 7


We spent all of Monday at University of Nebraska-Lincoln touring their feedlot, campus, ag programs, and tractor testing facility.

imageThey have an extremely large feedlot and a lot of land for a university. Their feedlot has 2,500 cattle and the school owns about 90 acres. They run their feedlot steers and do some research on them and they also have some cows and calves for research. They mix all their own feed and have trucks that drive by the feed bunks and dump in. Some of the steers in the barn had the specific feed bunk that only opens for the steer with the right neck tag. We learned a little about these at Purina so it was cool to see them in action.

The Ag program seemed to have a lot of options and could go pretty specific. We got a tour of the animal science program and I thought it was really cool that they have a dozen of each animal on campus in the building to use in classes for hands on learning. Their meat classes are becoming more popular and to teach about cuts of meat have a chilled classroom with a carcass rack that trails along the ceiling from the meat cooler.

My favorite part of the campus was walking out of the hallway and straight into an arena-seriously so image cool. The school horses are stalled right next to the arena and it’s all connected which I’m sure is handy in the winter time. UNL has an accomplished equestrian team and the school also used the arena with the other animals as well.


imageIn the state of Nebraska it’s a law to have tractors tested to ensure that they will do everything that is advertised before they can be sold. Even though it’s only a law in Nebraska, everyone chooses to have their tractors tested because their clients want to buy something that has been proven to work correctly. UNL has the only tractor testing facility in North America and tractors are tested for horse power, PTO, etc. I found this part super interesting and would have loved to see tractors out there being tested while we were there.

imageWe also got to check out UNL’s football program. Our former football coach, Mike Riley, is now the football coach at UNL. Although we weren’t able to meet up with him, we still got to check out where the team practices and even go out on the field. Their stadium is huge- it holds 92,000 fans. On game days, the stadium is the 3rd most populated city in Nebraska; Omaha being first and Lincoln being the second most populated.

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Day 6

imageToday we visited 4K Farms and the Omaha Zoo!
I would say that 4K Farms was one of my favorite tours. I don’t know a lot about pigs so it was very informational for me AND I got to hold a piglet (my first time) so that’s pretty hard for the other tours to compete with. But more than just that, my favorite part of this tour was the man who owns the company and showed us around, Kirk Swanson. Kirk has been in the business for many years and really knows what he’s doing and wants to teach others. His passion and work ethic was extremely inspiring to me and I am so glad we got the opportunity to meet him. His operation is very successful and is home to the famous boar, Hillbilly Bone. On this tour we got to see the entire process; from collecting semen from a boar to artificially inseminating a sow to piglets only a few days old to just weaned, growing and finishing.

image    image  imageKirk showed us some of his younger boars and showed us a boar named Hillbilly Hilton which he named after his best friend who’s last name was Hilton.Kirk said one of his struggles was finding good workers. In his experience, finding someone who will work hard and give it their all even if they have little experience will almost be his first choice of an employee. As he said, you can’t fix lazy.

This tour was a great experience and I really appreciated it.

After the farm we headed to the zoo! Let me just say, Omaha Zoo is quite impressive. There set ups and environments were really cool. Inside this giant dome imagethat you could walk around in for hours. First was the desert which I wasn’t a huge fan of but then it went into other areas that were imitating different climates. My favorite was probably the swamp area. Mostly because we got to see a cute little beaver swimming around. Other animals we saw were the orangutans reaching out to people asking for treats, lions and tigers and polar bears oh my! Rhinos, giraffes, sea lions, birds, butterflies, and tons of others. I’d say their aquarium wasn’t nearly as good as ours back home but we’re a little closer to the ocean.

This was a super fun day and we all got to let loose and just hang out at the zoo which was so nice!

We also saw where Oregon State baseball won the national championship many years ago. The original field and stadium was torn down but this smaller version was put in.image

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Day 5


Day 5 included a trip to Shatto Milk Company and Schweiver Orchards. Shatto Milk Co was really cooimagel. They had a lot of other people out there getting a tour as well. I was surprised to hear that people come for tours everyday but Sunday and Monday. The tour was really fun and interesting; we got to see their milking parlor and how they operate, see their barns, pet some of the baby cows and even got to milk a cow. My favorite part of the tour was the milk sampling; I could not believe how many flavored of milk they had and how good they were! Cotton candy, root beer, coffee, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream, banana, chocolate and strawberry flavored milk! I had a hard time deciding which was my favorite but I narrowed it down to cotton candy, strawberry and cookies and cream but I really loved all of them! I really enjoyed this tour and thought it was very neat.

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After we’d had our share of milk samples, we headed out to the apple orchard. We went to the farm that was open to the public where they had U-Pick apples and other fruit, hay rides, an area for kids to play, their store where they sold their produce. They also grew pumpkins and Christmas trees, and had a “corn” maze. Our tour guide was an owner of the company and shared the good and bad things involved with his farming but was very positive and happy to see young people wanting to be involved with agriculture. Something very interesting that I learned from this tour is that they paint their Christmas trees green. They were green when we saw them but as it gets closer to Christmas they turn yellow and need to be painted to look like a Christmas tree again. Something I found funny was that they had a small pumpkin patch that was available to the public that they refill with pumpkins from a bigger patch at a different location. The pumpkins are all sitting there shiny and clean and not attached to them stem but nobody ever questions it.

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Another great day!

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Day 4!

imageToday we got to visit Triumph Foods, Green Dirt Farm, and Monsanto field plots. The morning started off with an eye opening experience; Triumph foods is a plant that harvests pigs only and they harvest about 21,000 pigs per day. I was surprised by a few things on this tour. Right off the bat we watched the assembly line from above; this part of the line dealt with meat that was already separated into cuts and needed more attention then went to packaging. I was extremely surprised by how many people there were rather than machines; they had about 1,500 employees. There were people who would only stand there and turn the meat so it could go up the conveyer belt. After watching this for a while we toured the rest of the facility, and eventually ended up at the kill floor. We saw the whole process from when the pigs walked in until the very end. Their slaughter process is very humane; the pigs are exposed to CO2 and it makes them unconscious/brain dead by lack of oxygen. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I thought it was a great tour.image

Green Dirt Farm was a sheep dairy that made their own cheese. They milked about 80 sheep and each sheep only produces 4lbs of milk per day. They are a fairly small operation that hopes to expand in the future. This was a unique tour and I’m glad we got to experience something so different from what I think of when I hear dairy.image

At the Monsanto field plots we went out to their fields and saw what they had going on. As we have learned, the main crops over here are corn and soybeans. We got to see what they had planted and hear more about what they were doing and their research. These guys were also very knowledgeable and happy to answer our questions.imageimage image

After our tours of the day we had dinner at a Cajun restaurant I really liked it! I was excited to try something new that I couldn’t get at home.image

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Day 3!


Today has been another fantastic day! This morning we went to Purina’s research farm and learned about what they do out there. I was surprised that they were a functioning farm that sold products. They raise and sell their market steers and meat rabbits, milk and eggs, but their main goal is research. They have a lot of studies going on to find more information and to better the feed they produce. I was very interested in their horse research. Having a treadmill that can go 60mph and incline is impressive and there aren’t many like it anywhere. I was surprised that they don’t ride any of their horses there; they only get worked on the treadmill. I didn’t realize how Purina’s partnership with professional horse trainers and competitors worked. When Purina comes out with a change in their feed, these professionals in different disciplines such as barrel racing, reining and cutting, jumping, etc. are the testers before it’s available for the customers.
Another interesting part of Purina was their deer. They didn’t have any at the farm yet but are getting some soon! They have crazy huge antlers! Purina makes a feed that has a protein that helps with antler growth but we were informed that genetics also plays a big role in antler size.
After Purina we went to University of Missouri to check out their campus and animal science program.imageWe even saw a glow in the dark pig! The reason they have a glow in the dark pig is to show which pig is the genetically modified pig. From this they can study things like diabetes, the heart, and eye studies. I was expecting to see a pig glowing from across the way but it wasn’t like that. We turned out the lights and had a black light and glasses with a green filter. There was a glow pig and a regular pig right next to each other and once the lights were off you could only see the glow pig. It was most visible in the hooves and eyes and once the lights were on the only difference was that the glow pigs hooves were slightly more yellow. After checking out the animal science program we were treated to ice cream and I enjoyed a tiger stripe ice cream! Mizzou is known for their tiger stripe ice cream that they made up and I can definitely see why; I am a big fan. The ice cream parlor is ran by students and they make the ice cream right there. The milk for the ice cream even comes from their schools dairy!


A great day of tours and an amazing dinner at the Cracker Barrel! Tomorrow will be an early morning and another day full of awesome tours!


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Day 2

Today was an eventful day! This morning we went up 630 feet in the St. Louis arch and it was so cool! We went up in a tiny shuttle with 5 people stuffed in and I was surprised that it was only about a 5 minute ride. Once up there we went up some stairs and voila! We were looking over the city and all the way down to the ground. It was so cool but also a little scary!

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Before we went up we checked out the courthouse and got to see some history. I found the courtrooms really interesting!



After the Arch we went on a guided riverboat tour on the Misissippi River and that was pretty cool!

After that we went to Monsanto and I was really impressed; our tour guide was really informative and made it all very interesting.




I thought the growth chambers were super cool. The one we got to see www imitating weather in Brazil and if you walked in it was warm and humid. They are just a small room and they have quite a few of them. The growth chambers are super handy because you can see how a specific plant will grow in a specific atmosphere. These rooms get even get be set to be like different countries or as specific as different counties right next to each other.



Another great day! I am having a blast and learning lots of new things!

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Day 1

Yesterday was our first day in St. Louis and it involved a bit of waiting for my sister and I. Our plane got in early and we hung out in the airport until everyone arrived and then it was time to boogie!

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We came came to check in to our hotel and had just enough time to freshen up and then we were out out the door headed to the Cardinal’s baseball game. Since we had tickets for the Coca Cola box we had an unlimited amount of food available. I think a mixture of not eating a real meal all day and being extremely hungry made the already fantastic food that much more amazing. It rained the first half of the game but it wasn’t anything us Oregonians couldn’t handle! It is really weird to experience rain while its 80 something degrees. The first thing I learned about St. Louis is that it’s super muggy, but I’m adjusting. Back to the game.. the Cardinals hadn’t made a home run by the 7th inning and we were getting tired so we decided to head back to the hotel. As we were walking out the Cardinals made a home run and tons of fireworks went off. The game was really cool to watch and the food was fantastic. A great first day!



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Be there before I know it!

Before I know it I will be heading to St. Louis, and I am thinking I ought to start packing! I have started choosing what clothes I will bring with me and that makes me super excited!


As I think about what I’ll wear, I think about where we are going each day. Since we have gotten the first detailed schedule I have been ecstatic about all the cool places we get to tour and learn from. From our meetings about the trip before school got out for summer, we talked about going to Budweiser to tour and learn how they make beer. This really appeals to me, mostly because of the Budweiser horses, and even though this wasn’t part of the first schedule I’m hoping we will still be able to go!clydesdales1

I am really excited to go to all of the places we are going; seeing other colleges and their ag programs will be really interesting, as well as seeing a variety of animal agriculture productions, animal feed, research, farming equipment places, and Monsanto. I am looking forward to touring and learning more about Monsanto. index_053kIMG_9285


In addition to the agricultural tours, I am also super excited to do tourist things while we are there. It is my first time visiting any of these states so I am ecstatic to get to do it all. Without this trip, I would not be visiting the Midwest anytime soon, so I am happy I get the opportunity to learn about agriculture and do things that these areas are well known for.



I know this trip is going to be awesome and we will be learning tons of great stuff. From this trip I am expecting to learn lots and meet new people and have a great time!

St. Louis here we come!!!



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