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In a Nutshell: Kenneth Finishes Up His Noble Summer

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I have nothing but good things to say about my summer, like the other students who have passed through the Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture program. This was much more than a summer job: It has changed my outlook on life. It has shown me how fortunate I am to have all of the opportunities offered to me. More importantly, this summer has shown me why it is important to take advantage of these opportunities, because you never know where they might take you. I am now interested in continuing my education beyond a bachelor’s degree. If it all works out, I would like to continue working on more orchard economic subjects in a master’s degree program.

Some of the skills I refined at Noble include communication, interviewing, taking leaf samples, using Excel and time management. I also got to exercise skills I learned at OSU while learning about pecans. Actually seeing how the concepts taught in the classroom are applied to real-world farm situations was exciting, mostly because I was able to work with producers and industry-specific experts in addition to Noble employees. My network has definitely expanded exponentially over these past 11 weeks.

pecan treeThe pecan trees looked vibrant until the moment they were sacrificed in the name of science.

Wrapping Up a Pecan Zinc Study

There is no way I can list all the ways my knowledge has expanded, but I learned the most about pecans. They are fairly similar to walnuts and almonds, which I was already familiar with, but now I have a better understanding of tree farming in Oklahoma.

The physical part of my pecan research project is over. We stripped all 100 trees of their leaves, and then cut up the trees into small pieces with pruning shears. The samples were divided into 20 combined batches to create one leaf, one shoot and one root sample for each batch. It took two mornings with a crew of people to complete the dismantling of the trees. Next, each sample will be ground up, sent to the lab and analyzed. If the data shows anything significant about zinc absorption, a publication will most likely be made.

pecan tree samplesFive trees were cut up at a time, with clippings combined to form one leaf sample, one shoot sample and one root sample.

Scholars Present on Their Summers at Noble

On Aug. 6, 2019, the other Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture and I presented our projects to Noble employees. Everyone did a great job, despite nerves being a little high because there were many experts in the room. I was pleased with how my projects ended and was confident about discussing them. I was able to show and explain my projects to people from all of the departments at Noble with my 20-minute PowerPoint presentation, “Money for Nutt’n.” Yes, I managed to add a little humor into what could have been a not-so-interesting lecture full of lots of numbers.

kenneth watkins presentationKenneth tried to present his projects in an enjoyable way, including naming his presentation “Money for Nutt’n.”

Not All Work and No Play

This summer was also full of fun times outside of work. I gained eight new friends, and we spent lots of time together, sometimes too much! We did everything from barbecuing dinner to floating the river, fishing and attending street festivals. Many of our inside jokes would not be funny to anyone else, but this great friend group.

fishing noble pondsLloyd Noble scholars Kenneth Watkins (left) and Jake Hefley fish at one of Noble’s ponds.

I am also very appreciative of my mentor Will Chaney, Noble pecan management systems senior research associate; my fellow scholars; and everyone else who helped me at Noble. I will never forget my one Noble summer. I am so glad I had this opportunity and would encourage any other students interested in agriculture to apply for this program. Lastly, thanks to all my loyal fans who have followed my blogging this summer, even if it is just you, Mom.

Kenneth Watkins is a 2019 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture in Agriculture from Linden, California.