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First Impressions of Noble Research Institute From an Ag Scholar’s Perspective

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First impressions are a big deal. People quickly form judgements upon seeing or first meeting another individual. My first impressions of the Noble Research Institute have been excellent.

I visited Noble in the fall of 2017 to discuss the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program and what the Noble Research Institute does. That visit encouraged me to apply for the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program. I applied for the summer of 2018 but was not selected. I applied again for the summer of 2019 and was selected.

I had the opportunity to attend a Beef Quality Assurance class over spring break and an Introduction to Herd Health class a few weeks prior to joining Noble as a scholar. I was able to meet livestock consultants and other Noble employees at these events, which made me even more excited to get started at the end of May.

The welcome for me and the other interns has been incredible. There have been delicious meals, community, a day trip to Oklahoma City and more events to welcome us this week. Noble knows how to make the summer scholars feel welcome and at home.

I am only one week and a few days in but already knee-deep in the mob grazing project I am assigned to for the summer. I had some limited exposure to mob grazing from a summer of working on a farm in Stonewall, Oklahoma, but I did not understand the principles behind this grazing technique or its purpose. I now have the opportunity to learn how to recognize behavioral and physical signals from the 22 heifers I am in charge of as well as the land on which they graze. I am beginning to recognize when the cattle need to move and when to give the ground rest.

My favorite part of the project so far is working with the heifers. The girls were a hair on the wild side when I began working with them but have calmed down enough to allow me to get very close. I was even able to touch one this morning. I have enjoyed working with these cattle to calm them down, learn when they are ready for a new paddock, and learn how to use them to manage a pasture. I am looking forward to learning more about mob grazing and how the land and animals react to increasing stock densities (we will be over 500,000 pounds per acre in a few days).

The Noble Research Institute has been welcoming, professional and a display of a passion for agriculture. It is not just an impression that I have of the Institute, but also the employees who I have met and begun to work with. This has been a first impression that will last a long time.

Richard Duncan working with heifersRichard Duncan is working with these heifers on a mob grazing project this summer.

Richard Duncan is a 2019 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture.