My first week at the Noble Research Institute has flown by and has been packed with meeting new people, learning about a new state and settling into my summer home in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Since my schedule for the week developed and filled up day by day, I never knew exactly what to expect when I headed to the office in the morning. Friday, however, was pretty much booked with artificial insemination and prescribed burning, and I was excited about the day ahead before I even made it to the office.
We started the morning off with traveling to help artificially inseminate some of the Noble Research Institute's cows. After going over the basics of loading the straws for insemination and what to feel for during insemination, we were given the opportunity to get our hands dirty and jump right in. Coming from Pennsylvania, artificial insemination is an important management tool frequently used by dairy farmers to manage when cows are bred and what sires are used. It is something that I have learned a lot about in theory, but until Friday I had not had the opportunity to apply the knowledge in a real-world setting. Participating was a great chance to practically apply what I have learned in classrooms.
After finishing up our work with the cows, we headed over to help with a prescribed burn. Once again, participating with the burn helped connect the dots between theory and application. As we walked along, taking turns lighting the old growth on fire, we were able to observe the areas where burns had been done last year and the improved growth in these areas. Asking questions as we worked helped paint a clear picture of different situations when prescribed burning could be used and different ways it could be accomplished.
Overall, Friday was a full day of being out in the field and participating in important management tools for agriculture. It was a great way to wrap up my first week as a scholar, showing me the potential of the experience and the knowledge that I will gain for the rest of the summer.
Alyssa Sheppard is a 2014 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from New Derry, Pennsylvania. She grew up on her family's small sheep farm in southwest Pennsylvania and is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in agribusiness management with a minor in animal science.