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Let the New Adventures Begin!

This summer I am spending my time in Cortland County, working in the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office. I just officially finished my first week and it is off to a great start! The neat thing is that I am not only working in one avenue of extension, but many. My sole focus for the summer is education, both youth and adult. A lot of my time here will be with the 4-H educator, Rebecca Ireland-Perry, where I am working on different lesson plans and workshops with local recreation programs and the county’s camp, Camp Owahta, where I will be doing livestock lesson plans with the kids each week. Also, I will be heavily involved with the county fair, which is less than a month away! That’s not all, though! The South Central Dairy and Field Crops Team is also based out of the same office. I will also be working with Betsy Hicks, the area dairy specialist and Janice Degni, the team leader and field crop specialist. The big summer project with Betsy is a tiestall lameness study, so stay tuned throughout the weeks!

I have already gotten the opportunity to get my hands-on experience in many different areas of agriculture. Memorial day weekend, I was able to spend at the county fairgrounds. The walls in the 4-H building at the fairgrounds are getting a “facelift” so I spent most of Saturday working on putting up the new walls and basic carpentry. I had little to no experience with tools, just the basics like a hammer and drill, so this was an awesome opportunity to learn. I want to teach agriculture education, so this was a great lesson in a different part of agriculture and vocational education. My favorite part was using the air nailer, as you can see in the picture! Also during that weekend, the state goat show was going on at the fairgrounds, so the 4-H Teen Council group had the food booth open, so on Sunday I helped out with that.

A few weekends prior to the end of the semester, I was able to sort of start my internship a little early, with the annual Dairy Rodeo, and what a fitting name this is to the event. It is an all-day event where the 4-H kids are given a day to train, clip and show their animal. In the morning, a couple areas farms bring thirty or so calves and each kid gets a calf. I then did a showmanship demonstration for the members and another individual did a clipping demo to show the kids the proper way to clip their animal. Then then have the rest of the afternoon to wash, clip and train their animal to walk. I spent the day in the show ring helping the kids get their animals to walk and gave them pointers on their showmanship techniques. Then, at around 5:30 or so, the “mock show” began. The classes for the show were divided up based on age and I was the official judge. I placed them beginning with a first place winner and then went through the group and said what they did well and what to improve on given the circumstances. All of the 4-H members did a great job given the circumstances; there are a lot of calves who only want to run and some that don’t want to move, so it is a long day for both the kids and the calves, but definitely a learning experience for both!

Like I mentioned earlier, with Betsy Hicks, the area dairy specialist, we are working on a tiestall lameness study this summer, where we will be measuring lameness, the size of stalls and overall body condition scores, along with other specific parameters. This past week we went out and met with a farmer who will be participating in the study and sat down with her to find out specific information about her barn and farm. The team is also doing a few different farm tours this summer, one of them being a heifer barn facility tour. On Friday of this past week, we went out and visited a few farms to invite them to host one of the tours of their facilities.

I have a feeling this summer will be very diverse in the different departments that I am involved with, but they are all things that greatly excite me! Like they say “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Until next time, stay tuned!

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