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Toto, I don't think we're in Pennsylvania anymore

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As I landed at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on June 8, I realized that I was no longer surrounded by the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania and the roar of the Nittany Lion had almost been silenced. My beloved Nittany Lion fans have now been replaced by the Pokes, and I've traded in those hills for an endless view of range pastures and a flatter landscape, sometimes losing my sense of direction. I am starting to feel like an Oklahoman now that I've been here for just about two weeks. Although it might not seem like much time has been spent here in Oklahoma by looking at the calendar, the Institute has surely made every second of my workday full of things to be accomplished and added learning experiences. I am starting to adjust to the endless heat index and enjoy the change in weather with clear skies almost every day. I just hope that I don't have to experience a heat stroke by the end of the summer!

arika in the field

As far as my takeaway from these last several weeks - wow! I'm not sure what I signed myself up for, but I'm ready for the ride. Many college students look at the summer as an escape from the busy workweek and anticipate lazy days spent at the beach. Yet, for me, I looked at this summer as an opportunity to expand my horizons, literally, from across the globe to across the country. My mornings have started bright and early, waking up at the crack of dawn to listen to bobwhite quail and working well into the evening hours to move cattle from pasture to pasture; I feel like I'm running a marathon! Although my academic discipline is primarily centered in animal science, I believe that this summer will be a learning experience to take away other information in regards to forage management and soil quality, as well as working on my personal skills with the agriculture consultants. This includes learning how to communicate effectively with the Noble Research Institute personnel and area ranchers, as well as work as a team with the other Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture on farm visits. This summer is unique in that it is allowing us to explore avenues that we show interest in and giving us a chance to be involved in actual research data collection.

Quite recently, I even had the opportunity to attend the Beef Improvement Federation's annual meeting in Oklahoma City where there was discussion of cross breeding versus straight breeding. This annual conference also included several discussions regarding choosing a productive cow herd and the science behind behavior and its effects on efficient gain. I thoroughly enjoyed attending this event because I have such a passion for the beef industry. I noticed their detailed research and all the benefits that these studies have to offer countless ranch and farm operations across the country. As time progresses at the Noble Research Institute, I hope that I can find my niche in the animal science community just as these researchers once did and would like to further my education to graduate school. Who knows where my educational compass will take me? My possibilities are endless here in Ardmore at the moment. Stay tuned for weekly updates if I can find time between teaching the little ones about soil health and calling to my true love, the bobwhite quail.

With a Cattle Calling,

Arika Snyder is a 2013 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Lewistown, Pa.