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A Fresh Start

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Even if just for a summer, it took a lot for a true, native Texan like me to cross the Red River and move to Oklahoma. However, I was excited to begin my summer at The Noble Research Institute in Ardmore.

To avoid any confusion about my alma mater or where I call home, I had prepared to meet my new roommates wearing a Texas Christian University Energy Club t-shirt and my (very stylish) Texas flag running shorts. My brother, who was helping me move, called out Texas license plates once we crossed the state line. From my pickup full of clothes and too many shoes, I waved my mini Lone Star flag at the passing cars.

Although it has been an adjustment, I am honored to be working with the Institute that is actually somewhat responsible for my existence. My parents first met at a Noble-sponsored beef cattle symposium in our hometown of Fort Worth. Since the early 1990s, my family has been part of the cooperator program.

avonlea and courtney's door signs

I grew up on our commercial cow-calf ranch in northwest Tarrant County, and I remember the Noble Research Institute consultants coming by the ranch to look around, give advice and do fun experiments like shock the ponds to survey the fish. Ever since I have been intrigued by the organization.

After finishing our orientation, safety briefings, tours of the campus, and meet-and-greets, we scholars were able to begin our work. For the past two weeks, we have spent our time getting to know each other while identifying plants, attending meetings, grafting pecans and learning about the latest feral hog trap prototype.

One of my personal favorite things we have done was going to the international luncheon during the first week. The Noble Research Institute's employees represent more than 25 countries, and each of those had several homemade dishes that they brought for everyone to try. The food was different, authentic and amazing. It was only my first week, but it was a great way to meet people. Although it was difficult to turn down the cafeteria for lunch, I loved the international luncheon and even won a prize!

Avonlea Elkins is a 2014 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture. She grew up on a cattle ranch near Fort Worth, Texas.