Spring break trip mixes animal agriculture with fun
By Rachel Doctor
Many college students relax over spring break by soaking up the sun at the beach or visiting family members at home. But dozens of Purdue Agriculture students have gained extra knowledge and the chance to network and meet new people by participating in the animal science spring break trip. The weeklong experience takes students around the country to tour different animal agriculture facilities.
Instead of stepping into flip-flops, C.J. Fleenor, now a graduate student in animal sciences from Orleans, Ind., stepped onto the red, dusty dirt of a Colorado beef feedlot. Fleenor went on the trip last year and is thinking about how he will apply what he learned to his career. "I'm getting my master's in beef nutrition so that I can maintain a heifer development or feedlot backgrounding lot of my own" he said.
Fleenor said observing the Heartland Cattle Company heifer development facility opened his eyes to opportunities back home because the owner started from scratch and has built one of the most reputable heifer development lots in the country.
The trip consists of several stops at different types of animal operations. Each stop features speakers who explain how they got to their current positions in the industry. "We hope to give students the opportunity to see the breadth, depth, and scope of animal agribusiness throughout different geographic regions," said Ron Lemenager, a professor of animal sciences. Lemenager and Mark Russell, another animal sciences professor, developed the travel course.
By visiting these businesses, students learn practical things they can take back to the farm or use in their careers. Making personal contacts was one of the trip's important benefits, said Amanda McGuire, a senior animal agribusiness major from Fountain City, Ind. "This trip gave me the opportunity to connect with people in the industry outside the state I've always lived," she said. "Meeting these people gave me the confidence to seek a job outside of Indiana."
Finding business connections was great, but the trip also offered a chance to interact with Purdue faculty and fellow students. "The animal science travel course allowed me to develop strong bonds with faculty and friends," said Jacob Tobias, an animal agribusiness major from Edinburgh, Ind.
The trip also was a welcome chance to relax and enjoy a week without classes. McGuire said she collected several fun memories of the trip: playing euchre in the hotel, learning the Texas two-step at Kansas State University and several late-night get-togethers. "Fitting 46 students on one bus for a week, socializing, talking and getting to know classmates better, now that was fun," she said.