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Jake Hefley’s Summer as an Ag Scholar: Records to Feral Hogs and Prescribed Fire

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As I wrap up my time here at the Noble Research Institute, I think about how much this summer has influenced me both professionally and personally.

I’ve completed my project, which was beginning the process of restructuring the record-keeping system for the Noble Research Institute’s various ranches. I am excited to check back in and see how my portion of the efforts are being used and how the developments are progressing. Working on this project has been a great experience for me, and it has allowed me to have a much better understand of farm record-keeping along with the associated importance, benefits and challenges.

Seeing the Benefits of Prescribed Fire

This summer, I also had the chance to participate in a number of activities that have exposed me to new things. For example, I got to participate in a prescribed summer burn. I knew of prescribed burning, but I did not realize how beneficial it could be to soil and forage health. I got to visit fields that had previously been burned, and seeing the new growth on these fields helped me understand how beneficial this practice can be.

prescribed burnJake uses a drip torch to ignite the fire.

Tracking Feral Hogs With GPS Collars

I also got the chance to work with feral hogs. Feral hogs are a serious problem, and it is important that we take measures to reduce the population numbers. I participated in the Noble Research Institute’s efforts in this area by helping to install GPS collars on hogs that had been trapped. These hogs were released with the collars to allow researchers to track their activities and determine which locations would be best suited for trapping.

feral hogsFeral hogs were trapped using BoarBuster before being released with GPS collars.

Visiting With Producers on the Ranch

Visiting the ranches of various producers around the area, I got to learn how each run their operation and how they use various management practices in their production. From prescribed burns to high-density grazing and even utilizing a wind farm for additional income, I enjoyed hearing from these producers and gaining an understanding of the purpose behind what they do and how it benefits them.

livestock producersJake, along with a group attending the “Working Effectively with Livestock Producers” course, listen as Aaron and Seth Coffey discuss the operation of their ranch.

Learning From Animal Scientists

One of my favorite opportunities this summer was visiting Texas A&M to hear presentations from some of their animal scientists. They discussed topics including nutrition, reproduction and beef cattle genetics. I am always curious about new developments in the animal science industry, and it was a great experience to hear from these scientists who are so well respected in their fields. I am very appreciative of Texas A&M for their invitation, and I am thankful for the scientists giving us their time and sharing what they have been working on with us.

Part of the Noble Research Institute Family

I am grateful to the Noble Research Institute for giving me the opportunity to be a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture this summer. I will always remember my time here, and I know that the ways I have grown professionally and personally will continue to benefit me throughout the future. I was also able to build relationships this summer at the Noble that I hope to be long-lasting.

As I leave Noble and return to College of the Ozarks for my senior year of college, I will take back with me the great amount of knowledge and experience that I have gained during my time here. I will also take back a greater appreciation of what the Noble Research Institute does to benefit producers and the agriculture industry as a whole. I am proud to be a part of the Noble family, and I hope to remain in it throughout the future.

Jake Hefley is a 2019 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Harrison, Arkansas.