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From the Department Head

Department’s New, Expanded Focus Dairy Science Joins Animal Science

In July, our department grew to include the dairy science program.The merge mimics industry’s long-term needs for human talent that crosses the spectrum and will allow us to provide a robust program structure and curricula within both programs.

to the synergy created as we merge these two great departments.

We remain focused on a holistic academic approach — preparing students for a larger worldwide strategy that embraces the collaboration of science, healthcare, agriculture and the environment. State-of-the-art facilities such as the J & G Lau Family Meat Processing As faculty, staff and students embrace Center and the pending remodeling of the change, we look forward to many of our older facilities — thanks this venture benefiting all. We will to the generous support of alumni like continue to offer two majors, one in Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer — animal science and one in dairy science, continue to give students the direct as well as five minors: equine science, experience they need to advance into meat science and processing, poultry the industry jobs they seek. management, rangeland resources, and dairy science. I will continue to serve Students in the Animal Science as department head and look forward Department remain immersed in the


hands-on learning that distinguishes them from graduates at other universities. The experiential learning opportunities we provide our students are a vital part of their education, empowering them to be a part of the sustainable solutions we need for future generations. Thank you, as always, for your continued support, guidance and friendship. We could not succeed without you. I’m looking forward to another dynamic year. Jaymie Noland, D.V.M. Department Head Animal Science Department

New & Notes

The Tradition Continues Cal Poly Hosts 84th FFA State Finals in May Eighty-four years ago, in the month of May, the Empire State Building — the world’s tallest building until 1970 — officially opened. Baseball great Willie Mays was born. And Cal Poly hosted its first FFA State Finals. The FFA and Cal Poly are a natural fit, sharing strikingly similar mottos. The FFA’s motto begins with: “Learning to Do. Doing to learn.” That’s not far from Cal Poly’s own motto of Learn by Doing. It’s no wonder then that this year nearly 600 Cal Poly faculty, staff and student volunteers were eager to assist the more than 2,100 students from 173 high schools who arrived on campus May 3 to compete in 20 different contests. Contests are held in such categories as agronomy, dairy cattle, farm business management, floriculture, forestry, livestock, nursery landscape, marketing, veterinary science, welding and tractor driving. “There’s a contest in anything and everything related to agriculture,” said Morgan Metheny, assistant manager of the J & G Lau Family Meat Processing Center, who helped

organize and run the meat competition along with Jim Douglass, the new meat processing center manager (see story, page 17). “We had 64 students from 16 high schools compete in 13 classes in just the meat competition,” Metheny said. Categories included beef and pork carcass evaluation, quality and yield grading, and retail cuts identification. “This contest is the big leagues for California,” she said. Winners are named California state finalists and go on to compete at the National FFA Convention in October in Louisville, Ky. Metheny assisted the students in cutting and preparing all the meat that was to be used in the contest. “It was crazy busy the week before the event,” Metheny admits. “Typically we would have a few months to get ready. This year we did it in two weeks because of the shift in management at the meat processing center.” But the hard work paid off. “We heard that the FFA students were really happy with the competition we hosted,” Metheny said. “That was our goal. We started from scratch and worked to put on the best competition we could. I think we got pretty close.”

FFA members from across the state gather to evaluate a livestock class, one of 20 different contests held during the finals. Photo: Kelsey Fernandez


Animal Nutrition

2015 Western Bonanza Celebrates 31 Years Students Raise Record $75,000 in Industry Support

The Animal Science Department couldn’t have picked a better advisor for the 2015 Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show than lecturer Lee Rincker, who has spent his life involved in livestock judging. (See related story, page 18.) Western Bonanza, held this year in mid-February at the Paso Robles Event Center, began as a senior project three decades ago. The student-run event has evolved into a five-ring show considered “The Best in the West.” This year, students raised $75,000 in industry support — the most industry support in the history of the event.


“The students do an impeccable job seeking out sponsorships,” Rincker said. One major reason, according to Rincker, was Suzanne Amaral, an agricultural sciences junior who served on the Sponsorship Committee. “Our sponsors are a huge asset to Western Bonanza and a key component to our show’s success,” Amaral said. “Their generous donations allow us to provide the exhibitors with awards, a high-quality show, and a positive experience.” The largest sponsors this year were Stand Alone Feed in Lubbock, Texas; Associated Feed & Supply Co. in Turlock, Calif., and Stahlbush Island Farms Inc. in Corvallis, Ore.

News & Notes

2015 Show Facts More than 500 exhibitors and more than 2,000 head of

steers, heifers, lambs, hogs and meat goats entered the shows. A grand total of 135 students

helped run the show. The show management team included five student managers, 30 student committee chairs, and more than 100 student committee members. This year exhibitors from

Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon , showed their animals in four categories: beef, swine, sheep and goats.

Rincker admits it was a little stressful to plan. “I had never been involved in organizing anything of that magnitude. It’s like a mini-state fair; there are so many things going on,” he said.

Western Bonanza is not just for animal science majors. Students in crop science, agribusiness, agricultural science and others are enrolled in the class. “There’s a nice synergy,” Rincker noted.

He credits the students, Megan Silcott in the Agricultural Education & Communication Department and last year’s advisor, and animal science faculty emeritus Wendy Hall, who was in charge for years and is credited with developing the program and taking it to its current status as the largest student-run livestock jackpot in the U.S.

And it’s a valuable Learn by Doing lesson for the students. “Western Bonanza has given me the opportunity to gain fair management skills, provide a positive experience for youth in agriculture, and work directly with some of Cal Poly’s finest student leaders,” Amaral said. “Western Bonanza and the students who run it are one of a kind. There are few places where you find the level of hard work, passion and dedication that are exemplified at this jackpot show.”

“There are many hands that feed into it,” Rincker said. “Above all, it’s the students who do much of the work. I can’t get over how talented these students are.”

Keep up with Western Bonanza — “Like” it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter or

Instagram @westernbonanza.

LEFT: Exhibitor MiKenzi Meyers with her market hog. ABOVE: Judge Chris Cassidy evaluates the champion market steer line-up. LEFT TO RIGHT: Kadin Javadiin keeps an eye on the judge, various exhibitors brace their does, and Wyatt De Busk with his market hog. Photos: Katie Roberti




The Gift of a Lifetime Oppenheimers Pledge $20 Million to College; Substantial funds earmarked for Animal Science Department In the not-too-distant future, Cal Poly’s agricultural landscape will be transformed with new facilities and enhanced classrooms and labs, thanks to the generosity and foresight of alumni Peter Oppenheimer (B.S., Agricultural Business Management, 1985) and Mary Beth Oppenheimer (B.S., Home Economics, 1986). The couple announced last November their gift of $20 million to the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, and the Animal Science Department stands to benefit greatly from their largesse. The gift will fund new construction and modernize many of the department’s existing teaching units. It is expected to fully fund a new

70,000-square-foot Agricultural Events Center, an Equestrian Pavilion, and a farm store to sell student-produced meat, poultry, dairy, crop and horticulture products. Funds will also be used to double the size of the beef feedlot and completely remodel the Swine Unit. “Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer’s generous gift reflects their confidence in the future of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences and true belief in our Learn by Doing mission,” said Dean Andy Thulin. “This unprecedented investment will enable the college to make great strides.”

“This unprecedented investment will enable the college to make great strides.”

Approximately $3.5 million of the gift is earmarked for the Equestrian Pavilion, envisioned as two 60,000-square-foot arenas, and $10 million for the new events center.

Cover Photo: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Professor Pete Agalos, student Alicia Benson, student Melissa Hardy, student Kelsey Temple, donor and alumnus Peter Oppenheimer, saddle makers Tom and Candace Block, student Kylie Faszer, and student Rachel Dewer. Photo: Natalie Baker


The remainder of the gift will build the new farm store and upgrade the animal teaching units.

Quarter Horse Enterprise student Maggie Mckitrick warming up her sales horse. Photo: Melody Carter


“They both really like horses and expressed an interest in buying horses bred and raised by Cal Poly students,” Agalos said. “On a recent visit, after With the new equestrian facility, showing them the colts that were for Animal Sciences Department Head sale, they asked what the equine unit Jaymie Noland hopes to explore the needed. I gave them a lengthy wish list possibility of incorporating therapeutic of items the unit could use.” riding into the curriculum. Therapeutic horseback riding aims to help The Oppenheimers not only listened, individuals with special challenges, they delivered. The department has disabilities and disorders. been able to purchase new equipment, upgrade facilities, and add breeding Although the idea is just under stock that will benefit the students’ consideration at this point, Noland Learn by Doing experience. and Thulin did talk about it — and potential funding opportunities — “They have a desire to invest in with Sonny Ramaswamy, director of agriculture at Cal Poly,” Agalos said. the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “They see the good that it does for the National Institute of Food and students, and I’m very appreciative. It’s Agriculture, when he was on campus going to change my job; it’s going to in the spring. And Noland and Thulin make things better for all of us.” will continue the discussion with him The Oppenheimers very much want this summer when they travel to his to make things better. “Mary Beth Washington, D.C., office. and I know that the experience we “The possibility of using our horses had 30 years ago at Cal Poly was in and students to assist individuals with part due to what the people who came various disorders is very exciting,” before us did for the university, and Noland said. “The opportunity we very much wanted to give back so would also provide an exceptional that future students can have an even collaborative learning environment for better experience than we had,” Peter students in animal science, psychology Oppenheimer said. and child development.” Peter Oppenheimer spent 18 years The Oppenheimer’s $20 million gift at Apple, the last 10 as chief financial — the largest cash gift ever received officer. He retired in September 2014. by the university — wasn’t the end Currently he serves as a director of of the couple’s generosity. They have Goldman Sachs and the Cal Poly taken a special interest in the Animal Foundation. Science Department’s Equestrian Unit, overseen by longtime lecturer and equine specialist Pete Agalos.


Quarter Horse Enterprise student Alicia Benson riding the highselling horse in the May Cal Poly Performance Horse sale. Photo: Melody Carter


the accidental Teacher Assistant Professor Julie Huzzey Started in Research

For such a young scholar, Julie Huzzey has an impressive number of published research articles, abstracts and chapters and has presented widely in the field of animal behavior and welfare.

The assistant professor has her hands full advising students and teaching Applied Animal Behavior Science, Undergraduate Seminar, Graduate Seminar, and the capstone Senior Project class.

engaging and interactive activities that emphasize the university’s hallmark Learn by Doing philosophy.

“Students in my animal behavior class go out and develop a research hypothesis and conduct a miniresearch project,” she said. “They She is new to teaching and admits to A self-described “city girl” who grew collect behavior data, summarize it, having a lot to learn. “I’m taking full up near Vancouver in British Columbia, and write it up. I plan to integrate more advantage of Cal Poly’s Center for Canada, Huzzey is one of the Animal problem-based learning into my class. Teaching, Learning and Technology,” Science Department’s new faculty This involves presenting students with she said. “I try to bring different hires. activities into the classroom,” including pieces of information from which they



“When I interviewed, I was so impressed with the students, and I connected with the Learn by Doing philosophy because that is how I got involved — I was thrown into research.”

develop questions and determine what they know and what they don’t know in order to solve a problem.” Huzzey didn’t start out planning to teach. She enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC) intending to become a veterinarian. “I grew up a city girl, but I always wanted to work with animals,” she said. “Halfway through my program, I decided I didn’t want to pursue a veterinarian degree. I enjoyed learning about agriculture, and I earned my bachelor’s degree in agroecology — sustainable agricultural systems.” While still an undergraduate, Huzzey conducted a summer research project with dairy cows, and “it fell into place after that,” she said. “I became a research technician for the UBC Animal Welfare Program, earned a master’s degree in animal science, and got involved in projects looking at behavioral indicators of disease in dairy cows.” She went on to earn a doctorate at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and focused her research on the interactions between animal behavior and physiology. “My long-term goal is to enhance our understanding of how livestock housing and management systems influence behavioral and biological processes,” she explained. “This

information could be used to develop practical strategies that can be directly applied on the farm to improve animal health and well-being and maintain a positive public perception of animal agriculture,” Huzzey said. Just prior to joining the Cal Poly faculty, she had been working as a post-doctoral research fellow with the Animal Welfare Program at her alma mater, UBC. “I was working on a big study focused on understanding dairy cows’ behavioral changes around the time they deliver their calf,” she explained. “Cows are very susceptible to diseases and illness at that time because of the demands of producing milk, changing metabolic needs, and changes in their environment.” Specifically Huzzey is interested in the uterine infection known as metritis. “No one has investigated whether it is painful,” she said. “We are looking at the cows’ behavior before and after they become sick to see how treatment with an NSAID (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug) helps with their recovery and pain.” The research is ongoing, and though Huzzey now lives in California, she is still collaborating on the project. Huzzey plans to begin research soon at Cal Poly and has tentative plans for

projects at the dairy facility that would focus on that vulnerable time around calving. “The cow goes through so many different types of stressors, I want to understand the management factors that drive those stressors,” she said. “How does stress affect the downstream health of the animal? This is a question relevant to all animals in agriculture. I look forward to working with the other animal units at Cal Poly to address this question.” She has spent most of her time as a researcher, but at Cornell, she got a taste of teaching. “Up until then, I thought I would have a major research career,” she said. “When the position opened at Cal Poly, I applied, not knowing what to expect. When I interviewed, I was so impressed with the students, and I connected with the Learn by Doing philosophy because that is how I got involved — I was thrown into research.” Huzzey hopes to instill in her students the desire to learn. “I want them to appreciate and enjoy the learning process rather than be so focused on an endpoint or answer,” she said. “I try to get them to be critical of the literature, to ask good questions, know where to seek information, and think through problems.” LEFT: Dr. Huzzey assists ASCI student Sydney Elliott at the milking parlor.


Nothing to Beef About Students Learn Firsthand About Cattle Industry at Two Conventions Keela Retallick, Cal Poly assistant professor of animal science and a beef cattle specialist, also serves as an important mentor to young people on the Central Coast interested in the beef cattle industry.

In mid-November, she and 20 students attended the California Cattlemen’s Convention in Reno, Nevada, held in conjunction with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. While there, students attended “Cattlemen’s College” sessions to learn about relevant topics in the beef industry.

As advisor to the San Luis Obispo “We learned about new advances in County Young Cattlemen’s Committee, technology and heard presentations a subdivision of the California on genetically modified organisms Cattlemen’s Association, Retallick and (GMOs),” Retallick said. “All the hot several Cal Poly students attended two topics were discussed.” recent industry conferences.


An important component of the conference is reviewing policy related to the cattle industry. Committees report on such issues as animal health, antibiotic use in beef, and global marketing. Policies are updated and subsequently taken to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which lobbies for the industry. “The policy updates clarify where beef producers stand on central issues,” Retallick said. “And students sitting in on those sessions learn what’s important.”

Pre-veterinary In early February Retallick and 15 students traveled to the NCBA conference in San Antonio, Texas. “It’s very similar to the state conference, only larger, with keynote speakers offering inspirational life lessons,” she said. “And the trade show is huge. You could spend days walking through it.” The conference provides great networking opportunities for students, who get an even closer look at how the industry works. “We are blessed with really good students, so the only advice I give them is to be prepared,” Retallick said. “Go out to the trade shows. If there is a certain company you are interested in, have your resume ready. I had two students land internships for the summer.” Animal science sophomore Hannah Chandless attended the statewide conference and appreciated the worldview it provided. “In school, we don’t always focus on current issues, but at the conference, it’s all real-world experiences.”

Photo: Lauren Christensen

Cal Poly Bull Test Set for Oct. 4 Assistant Professor Keela Retallick is gearing up for Cal Poly’s 2015 Bull Test, to be held Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Cal Poly Beef Center. The Bull Test started on campus in 1956 and is one of the longest-running bull tests in the nation. Also one of the best. “I would say we are considered to have one of the best bull tests in regard to the quality of the bulls we sell,” Retallick said. It’s much more than a sale. It’s an enterprise class that provides valuable experience to about 60 students while giving cattle producers an outlet to get their bulls developed. Advised and taught by Retallick, the enterprise is managed by students. Two student cattle managers delegate the day-to-day tasks of feeding and health checking; two student office assistants help with the sizeable amount of office work and recordkeeping that is required. Students also coordinate the advertising, help design and place the ad, and produce the sales catalog book. In August, students put on Field Day, an educational seminar that gives consigners and buyers a chance to view the bulls before California’s bull-buying season in September.

TOP: Summertime work group ABOVE: Justice Rasmussen weighs bulls


Choosing a

different path Graduate Alexander Mandrusiak Pursues Master’s Degree in Munich


Alumni Update

Alexander Mandrusiak (B.S., Animal Science, 2014) took a distinctly different path than most animal science graduates, choosing to pursue a two-year master’s degree at a university in Munich, Germany. He is currently enrolled in the life science economics and policy master’s degree program at the Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich). This unique degree program leads to career and life opportunities that many animal science students never even consider. “A majority of undergraduates choose the animal science program expecting to go on to veterinary school. I know this because I was one of those students,” Mandrusiak said. “The program I’m in now showcases other possibilities and opportunities. This degree is intended to lead to careers that involve making business

decisions based upon the natural sciences. My focus is on biotech and the implications it can have in the pharmaceutical sector, both from an agricultural and medical perspective.” Mandrusiak has discovered that at German universities — at least at Technische Universität München — things are done very differently than at Cal Poly. In addition to adjusting to the semester system, Mandrusiak had to adjust to a new grading system in which “grades are based 100 percent on the final exam. There’s no way around it, and it can a bit nervewracking.” He has, however, found benefits to living in a place that “actually has weather!” He doesn’t have to travel far to go snowboarding or skiing in the Alps, and his central location has inspired trips to Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Geneva, London, Paris, Prague and Vienna.

It’s not all study and travel, though. He does have to maintain a normal course schedule and is currently working for the university. Mandrusiak said that Germany offers great master’s programs and many are taught in English at little or no cost to students — even non-German citizens. And, he said, “The universities and individuals are more than welcoming and do their best to make the transition as easy as possible.” The best part of his experience has been cultivating lifelong friendships and being able to see the world while learning about different cultures. And the worst part? “Being away from family — especially my dog — and not having a Trader Joe’s 10 minutes away. I really miss the Cookie Butter and Kona Coffee Shortbread cookies!”

LEFT AND CENTER: Andrew Mandrusiak performs lab work during his biotech and stem cell therapy class. RIGHT: Mandrusiak takes time to hike with friends in Austria.


For the Birds … and Proud of It! Avian Physiologist Darin Bennett Joins Animal Science Faculty of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, Bennett attended graduate school at the University of British Columbia (UBC), earning a master’s degree in avian nutrition and a doctorate in comparative avian physiology.

Growing up in Canada — mostly in the greater Vancouver area and later in Ottowa, Ontario — Darin Bennett, the Animal Science Department’s newest assistant professor, raised chickens. Perhaps it was that early interest in birds that led Bennett to become a comparative avian physiologist specializing in nutrition. Or as he puts it, “I’ll work with anything that has feathers.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University


He has spent the majority of his career in research. He was awarded a postdoctoral scholarship to study avian nutrition at Shinshu University in Japan. In 2006 he returned to UBC to work in the Avian Research Center on projects that aided the growth and development of the specialty birds industry in British Columbia. After eight years, the research funding ended. What might be viewed as a stroke of bad luck for UBC could be considered good fortune for Cal Poly.

He teaches Poultry Meat Production and Processing and Applied Nonruminant Nutrition. He would like to revamp the Quail Enterprise with Joe Gardner, (see story, page 19), who runs that enterprise program. Bennett would like to develop some research projects involving the students. “Research and teaching go hand-inhand,” he said. “There is no separating it; they are part of the same thing.” As a teacher, Bennett strives to impart his passion. “I want to pass on my joy of exploring,” he said. “I want to give

“I want to give the next generation the tools to do whatever they want to do.”

the next generation the tools to do whatever they want to do.”

Bennett, a black belt in Karate, has Bennett hadn’t planned on teaching, taught the Japanese martial art and but “things fell into place,” he said. “If has worked with great teachers. Along you have your eyes open, opportunities the way he developed a three-pronged come to you. This wasn’t my plan, but I philosophical approach to teaching: love it. I love teaching; I love research. I “First, you learn to learn; then you learn want to come to work every day. Who to teach; and finally you teach to learn. could ask for anything better?” I believe that.”

Faculty Updates

New Meat Processing Manager Jim Douglass Returns to His Roots After 36 Years Jim Douglass (B.S., Food Industries, 1979), the new manager of the J & G Lau Family Meat Processing Center, knew early on he would eventually go into the meat processing industry. “Working in this profession was one decision I never had to make,” he said. He got his first job at 16 at a local meat processing plant, and in the many years since, he hasn’t looked back.

“I am excited to bring my experience to these students.”

After graduating from Cal Poly, he went to work for McNeil and Libby Canned Meat Processing in Chicago. His work experience, coupled with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing education, made him a very desirable new hire. “That’s the beauty of the university’s J & G Lau Family Meat Processing Center (MPC); it provides work experience. It makes a great package for any grad.”

After two years at Libby’s, Douglass moved briefly to Texas, before he and his wife, Sue, settled in Fresno to help a young Swiss family establish their brand for dry sausage and prosciutto. “Dried sausage and prosciutto — they are the ultimate in the meat processing industry,” Douglass said. “The finished product is very sophisticated, very refined.” When Old Country Deli in San Luis Obispo came looking for a manager in 1985, the Douglass family made the move to the Central Coast. After 21 years there, Jim was hired at Cattaneo Bros. to manage that operation. “At Old Country Deli, I employed primarily college students,” Douglass said. “I understand their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding people and having the ability to work with them goes above and beyond technical training. I have had lots of opportunities to gain that experience.” He hopes to expand the center’s offerings in further-processed foods.

“I want to take steak and ground pork to the next level. I want to make more bacon, more ham, more sausage, and more smoked and cured products,” Douglass said. “The creativity and imagination that goes into producing those meats is unlimited, and it’s a journey the students at the MPC will greatly benefit from.” Douglass never expected to return to Cal Poly and work in the Animal Science Department. “It has turned into a dream come true,” he said. “I am excited to bring my experience to these students. I started where they are, so it’s easy to understand their situation.”


Department Welcomes Lee Rincker Taking his Passion for Livestock into the Classroom in July 2014, fresh out of grad school at Chico State. While working on his master’s degree in agricultural education, he also served as assistant livestock judging coach and taught courses in Advanced Livestock Selection and Carcass Evaluation and Livestock Skills.

It’s easy to see why students often mistake animal science lecturer Lee Rincker as a fellow classmate. At 24, the Illinois native is just about the same age they are. “It’s funny when you walk into your first class and the students are wondering who the teacher is,” Rincker said. “It was hard for me to wrap my mind around being their same age, but as time went on, I assumed the role of teacher.” Teaching is not an entirely new role for him. He came to Cal Poly


Turns out, those classes served him well as preparation for his job at Cal Poly, where he is teaching Livestock Evaluation, Advanced Livestock Evaluation, Livestock Show Management, Advanced Livestock Planning Systems, and Systems of Swine Production. He was also in charge of this year’s Western Bonanza (See story, page 4.)

Several people played a part in Rincker’s decision to become a teacher. “I had a lot of encouragement from friends and family to pursue a career in education,” he said. He is glad he made the choice. “Every day is different,” he said. “Students make it fun. I get a new group every 10 weeks. They are inquisitive; they ask good questions. And the fact that I am their age helps me relate to them. I know what they are going through. It wasn’t long ago that I was in their shoes.”

“Don’t put on horse blinders. Life is a winding path, and it’s hard to see beyond the next curve.”

Livestock is his passion. “My family’s roots run deep in agriculture. I grew Rincker said he hopes to instill in up on a cow-calf/row crop operation,” students a sense of openness. “I want Rincker said. “I have fond memories them to realize they can’t stay confined sitting on a truck tailgate with my to one mindset. Don’t put on horse father, discussing cattle while watching blinders. Life is a winding path, and them graze. Little moments like that it’s hard to see beyond the next curve. I helped shape and develop my passion want students to learn to be adaptable.” for livestock.”

Faculty Updates

New Lecturer Not New to Cal Poly Alumnus Joe Gardner Returns to Campus and Animal Science To the casual observer, pigs and chickens might not seem to have much in common, but according to Joe Gardner (B.S., Animal Science, 20 04), Cal Poly’s new poultry and swine lecturer in charge of the Quail, Broiler and Swine Management enterprises, both species have similar needs when it comes to housing, production and care. “Both animals are housed in large groups and both tend to have similar

“It’s interesting to see it from the other side. Teaching is not as easy as some of my professors made it look.”

students each quarter the same experience in handling and caring for the broilers. Gardner oversees the sow herd in the Swine Management Enterprise. They are artificially inseminated, and after a gestation period of 114 days, they give birth to an average of 12 piglets. The sows and piglets spend 21 days in the farrowing barn before the piglets are weaned and taken to the nursery to eat and grow. The sows go into heat five days after their piglets are weaned, and the process starts anew. Students are involved in every aspect of the sows’ and piglets’ care and feeding, from farrowing to vaccinating.

will have a positive impact on student success,” he said. Gardner, who had worked at JS West Milling Co. since 2005, switched gears entirely by joining the Animal Science Department. The former Cal Poly student said, “It’s interesting to see it from the other side. Teaching is not as easy as some of my professors made it look.”

Gardner is also involved in several environmental needs to ensure welfare remodeling projects. “We are building and production,” he said. a better swine gestation barn and a new egg-laying production system. The In the Broiler Enterprise, Gardner and Animal Science Department Head gestation barn will incorporate new students raise baby chicks for Foster Jaymie Noland sees Gardner’s industry group housing technology, including Farms. “At the beginning of the quarter, experience as a real benefit. “It’s great electronic feeders that recognize we pick up 6,000 day-old chicks,” he to find faculty with extensive industry individual sows and adjust feed said. “We feed and care for them for experience,” she said. “It adds another requirements accordingly,” Gardner 44 days then take them to a processing dimension to the classroom and to the said. The poultry unit will have facility. The production cycle is Learn by Doing philosophy.” enriched colony, cage-free, and pulletrepeated three times a year, giving rearing systems. “The new systems


It’s a Jungle Out There! Recent Grad Ferrin Peterson Goes Into the Wild to Help in Myanmar Ferrin Peterson (B.S., Animal Science, 2015) spent last Christmas in the primitive jungles of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) without the comforts of running water or electricity, choosing to spend two weeks on a service mission. Peterson’s strong faith pulled her to spend her winter break working with the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) organization, a Christian humanitarian group that provides medical care, food


and clothing to people in Myanmar’s war zones. Peterson helped monitor and care for the mules and horses that FBR uses to carry medical supplies. Before her arrival, the animals had been dying from an unknown cause. Peterson — a pre-vet student — trained the mule handlers in venipuncture, body condition scoring, weight documentation, injection sites, hoof trimming and cleaning, and proper handling techniques. “I was able to

give mule handlers real skills — skills they can pass on to other handlers,” she said. Peterson followed the horses to see what their food and water sources were. She treated some with acupuncture to boost their immune system, and she collected blood samples for the researchers at UC Davis who were helping her pinpoint the animals’ cause of death. “We believe we’ve narrowed down the lethal disease that killed five mules and two horses,” she said.


She made a real difference in a Third World country that desperately needs help. She raised her own funds to cover her expenses. Once there, she experienced a primitive life not even imagined by most Cal Poly students. “Myanmar is hot and humid — even in winter,” Peterson said. “We traveled mainly in mountainous jungle, sleeping in hammocks strung between trees and bathing in rivers. “Each village is about eight hours — on foot — from the next, along dirt paths. Jungle life is as basic as it gets.” The villagers were gracious, providing meals of meat with rice or noodles. “Some days we simply ate rice with seasoning,” Peterson recalled. “I brought my own water purification kit, as we drank water from the rivers.” Culture shock hit Peterson in reverse. “I didn’t experience culture shock until I returned to the States, seeing all the luxuries I take for granted,” she said. “It felt strange to drive my car instead of hiking to every destination.” Ferrin will be attending UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall with a large-animal focus. “I hope to use that to treat livestock or pack animals for mission work in the future,” she said.

LEFT: Ferrin Peterson rides the lead stallion through a river during a trip to transport supplies and people up and down mountainous terrain. TOP: Peterson crosses another river on a trek to deliver supplies. MIDDLE: Peterson “floats” the horse’s teeth to remove sharp points. RIGHT: Peterson stands with Free Burma Rangers’ last remaining mule. Five mules died in the last year from an unknown disease that she was researching.


Mad About Meat Morgan Metheny Lends a Hand and More at Meat Processing Center Morgan Metheny (B.S., Animal Science, 2014) had been working in the university’s J & G Lau Meat Processing Center for about a year by the time she graduated in June of 2014. She was working there as a student assistant during her senior year, when the former manager left to pursue his doctorate. “I jumped right in,” she said, and served as manager of the center until Jim Douglass came on board at the end of April 2015. (See story, page 17.) Now she works alongside Douglass and helps teach the Introduction to Meat Science class, a required course for all animal science majors. It’s an intensive three-hour lab taught every quarter to more than 90 students in up to five sections Monday through Thursday. “The students learn a little bit of everything, from harvesting and fabricating to producing value-added products,” Metheny said. “They learn

how to break down beef, pork and lamb into retail cuts, such as ribs, chops, steaks and roasts. They learn to make sausage. And they learn industry standards in safety and training.

Metheny and Douglass have plans to expand the varieties of processed While Metheny was growing up meats produced at the J & G Lau in Canyon Lake, a small town Family Meat Processing Center. “We in Riverside County in Southern would like to include a wider variety of California, teaching wasn’t in her plans. sausage and maybe produce pastrami “But this position opened up, and I love and other deli meats,” she said. Cal Poly and love San Luis Obispo,” she said. Metheny would also like to see sales She also has come to enjoy teaching, especially when she gets to “expose the facts” about the meat industry. “The media has demonized the industry,” Metheny said. “I want to help dispel the myths about it.”

expand into more local markets and grocery stores. Cal Poly-produced meats are sold at Vons stores in San Luis Obispo. Metheny hopes soon to be in the two San Luis Obispo Haggen stores.

Cal Poly Meats Cal Poly-produced meat is sold on campus at the J & G Lau Family Meat Processing Center on Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Arroyo Grande Farmers Market in the Village from noon to 2:30 p.m.


Rules of Engagement Professor Links Students with Alumni at State Conference Animal Science Professor Mark Edwards doesn’t accompany students to conferences only so they can hear the presentations and further their education. Students are also assigned a specific Cal Poly alumnus with whom they find, converse and network. Recently Edwards and Assistant Professor Julie Huzzey traveled with eight students to the California Animal Nutrition Conference in Fresno, Calif. Edwards has for years been taking students to this conference, which attracts about 200 people annually, including many Cal Poly animal science alumni. “I noticed students tended to get a little nervous at these conferences,” Edward said. “They’d listen to the presentations, but they didn’t reach out and engage with people. They seemed intimidated by this new experience.”

Cal Poly delegation at the California Animal Nutrition Conference, left to right: Maxence Mcmanamy, Beatrice Quintero, Allison Mullin, Rachel Talpalatsky, Stephenie Salinas, Emily Schwartz, Breanna Benson, and Sydney Elliot, with Professor Mark Edwards.

success? What advantages do Cal Poly students have over students from other programs? What advice would you give first-year Cal Poly students to take full advantage of their education? Would you consider hosting a Cal Poly animal science intern? What do you find most valuable about your education?

to find their person. It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt.” Edwards said the students and alumni like it. “The students enjoy meeting the alumni. They get to practice their networking skills.

He wanted to change that. So he makes an assignment out of it. “I alert the alumni, telling them that during the “The alumni like that we recognize conference they will be approached they have something to contribute “I have multiple intentions for having by a Cal Poly animal science student, back to the program; that we value the students do this,” Edwards said. who will ask them various questions,” that contribution,” Edward continued. “It’s a way for them to talk to someone Edwards said. “They also like talking to someone they who has come from the same program. have a connection with. There might be They have to find that person. I give Questions such as: How did Cal Poly five or even 25 years separating the two, them the person’s name, but they have prepare you? How did hands-on but they have that connection back to to ask people, network with people, learning contribute to your career Cal Poly’s animal science program.”




Published by Cal Poly’s Animal Science Department as a link between the nation’s premier animal science program, alumni and friends. The department’s doors are always open and questions and comments are welcome.


Building 10, Room 141

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Jaymie Noland EDITOR AND WRITER: Jo Ann Lloyd GRAPHIC DESIGNER: VanMeter Designs PHOTOGRAPHERS: Melody Carter and Katherine Young

Back Cover Photo: More than 140 students graduated from the Animal Science Department during the 2014-15 academic year.

Photo: Ultimate Exposures Inc.

Animal Science Department Class of 2015

Stock Report: Cal Poly Animal Science Newsletter  

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

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