Emeral Coast Wildlife Refuge Intern – Meagan Johnson

Meagan Johnson 1My name is Meagan Johnson, and I am a junior majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences at Mississippi State.  I will be spending this summer working as an intern at the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Throughout this internship, I will have the opportunity to gain experience with Florida’s native wildlife and other exotic animals. As an intern, I will work with the wildlife health staff to rescue and rehabilitate injured or abandoned wildlife. My duties will range from performing initial exams of injured wildlife to working on various community outreach programs. This wide variety of experiences will be extremely beneficial to me as I work towards my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I’m very excited to start this internship, and I can’t wait to see what the next 12 weeks have in store for me!


I spent my first day as an intern at the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) Zoological Park.  I was taught how to work the primate and hoofstock shifts. Hoofstock represents various livestock, llamas, a wallaby, a muntjac deer, and a few other species. Both shifts consisted of preparing the morning and evening diets of the animals and cleaning the enclosures. The primates will also have some form of enrichment activity each day. I really enjoyed learning how these shifts work, and I can’t wait to start them on my own next week. For the remainder of the week, I worked at the Refuge. This is where rescued animals are brought to be rehabilitated and released. Every day I prepared morning and evening diets for all of the animals at the refuge; it took about 3Meagan Johnson 2 hours to prepare both sets of meals.  Cleaning cages and enclosures also takes up a large part of the day, along with other various house-keeping duties. I’ve already learned a lot in my first week. On my first day there, I was taught to bottle feed the numerous orphaned raccoons that we have in our nursery. Once I was taught, I was responsible for feeding them throughout the day. I also learned to syringe-feed our many fledglings. On Friday, several of our opossum weanlings had begun to develop Metabolic Bone Disease due to calcium deprivation, so the veterinarian taught us about the disease, and we were instructed how to treat it.  Next, I helped build and install new perches in the raven enclosure as part of their enrichment. Lastly, we had to treat a heron that is in critical condition after being entangled in a fishing line; the hook had torn off the skin and some of the tissue on both of his legs, and the line was entangled over his entire body. Hopefully, he will recover soon and we will be able to release him. I really loved learning about and working with all of the animals at the refuge, and I think this will be great experience.

Darling 888 Ranch Intern-Krista Pack

Krista Pack 1

Darling 888 Ranch

My name is Krista Pack and I am currently a senior at Mississippi State University. This summer I am interning in Princeton, Kentucky at the Darling 888 Ranch. The ranch has two main barns on the property. The training barn houses client’s horses and each day Andrew Fox, barn and training manager, works with their horses to prepare them for reining completions. The barn that I work at is the breeding barn which houses about 35 mares and foals, broodmares, and yearlings. At the ranch I work with Dina Allen who is the breeding manager and the ranch veterinarian, Dr. Travis Luna. Each day at the ranch is different but we always begin the day around 7 a.m. feeding all the horses. Once we get done feeding, I then bring up the mares that we need to check to see if they are pregnant. So far we have succeeded with breeding two out of the five mares. One of the horses even had twins. When a horse has twins we measure the diameter of each fertilized egg, we then have to “pinch” off the smallest egg so that there is a better chance for the other egg to survive. This week we also collected semen from two stallions. One of the stallions we had to collect semen using medication. The medicine all

Krista Pack 2

Looking at follicles with Dr. Luna

ows him to relax and then we collected in a sterile bag. The other stallion we collected using a teaser mare and an artificial vagina (AV), which is the preferred method. Once we have finished checking the mares we then begin working with some of the foals in halter breaking. The first couple of days we would just get into the stalls and get them used to us touching them, we then proceeded in catching the foals and placing halters on them and letting them get used to something being on their face. At the end up the week we were able to place the halters on them and walk them up and down the halls with their mothers. Throughout the summer we will continue to work with them and eventually be able to walk them around the barn without their mothers being beside them. We then feed the horses again and the day usually ends around 5 p.m. We work Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays we just come in to feed in the morning and the afternoon. This week I have learned a lot about the equine breeding industry and I am eager to continue in working and learning at the Darling 888 Ranch this summer.

Attala County Extension Intern-Zach Moody

Zach MoodyMy name is Zachary Moody and I am an Animal and Dairy Sciences major from McCool, Mississippi. I grew up on a small farm and have been involved in 4-H most of my life and I would like to pursue a career with the Mississippi State Extension Service after I graduate. This summer I will be interning at the Attala County Extension office under the County Director, Taylor Casey. I will be shadowing him and helping put on different programs and activities throughout the summer. I hope to learn about all of the different duties and activities this job involves so that after I graduate I am prepared and have experience when applying to work with the Extension Service.


During my first week interning at the Attala County Extension office I was shown around the office and met with many new people who help out around the city. I learned some of the basic duties that were done such as getting flyers ready to send to schools for summer programs and visiting people’s houses who were having troubles with their plants and needed advice on what they needed to do to fix it. We went to an orchard and looked at peach trees with blossom end rot and advised the owner how to control it. We also traveled to some of the local schools to hand out flyers and talk about 4-H to some of the classes. This week was a great learning experience for me and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.


During my second week interning, I was able to learn more about different diseases of plants and more things that people who work for Extension are responsible for. I traveled to look at cotton plants that were being killed by thrips and others that were having to compete with soybeans that had come up in the field. I also learned about some of the diseases that ornamental plants like azaleas get and can be very problematic.  We had people come in to send off soil and water samples to be tested for different nutrient and pH levels. It was a very interesting and informative week.



Prestage Farm Intern- Deedee Cottonham

PhotosMy name is Dorothy “Deedee” Cottonham and I am from Madison, Mississippi. I am an ongoing junior at Mississippi State University, majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences with a concentration in Science/Veterinary Science. I plan to graduate from Mississippi State University with my Bachelors in Science, and continue on to graduate school.

In trying to make sure that I take the necessary courses for veterinary school enrollment, as well as the graduate program in Animal and Dairy Sciences, I was introduced to the opportunity to engage in a hands-on internship. With this opportunity being offered to me, I researched summer internships for the summer of 2016, to connect with others in the Animal and Dairy Sciences industry and gain some hands-on experience within the field. In doing so, I came across the opportunity that Prestage Farms was offering for ongoing juniors majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. I applied for the internship and was offered an interview. I was then notified that I received the position.

My internship will include a 2 week rotation throughout the 2016 summer semester. In doing so, every two weeks I will be introduced to a different department of the Prestage Farms Incorporation headquarters in West Point, Mississippi. They have approximately 15 farms, 1 in which is a feed mill and another which is an Artificial Insemination farm. I will have the opportunity to visit many of the farms and receive knowledge and hands-on experience within each department.


This week at the Prestage Farms Incorporation (Mississippi Division), I started my first week at the Artificial Insemination farm located in West Point, MS. On the first day I met up with my supervisor, to discuss how my overall internship experience at Prestage Farms Inc., would be held. I was told by supervisor that I will be visiting each farm division that is a part of the West Point headquarters. In order for me to do so, every two weeks, I will be assigned to a different division of the department. With each division comes different work hours, workloads, and responsibilities. I was then taken to meet the main office coordinator and we went over my schedule for the first farm that I was going to visit, the Artificial Insemination Farm (AI Farm).  I was introduced to the Artificial Insemination Farm employees and team leaders that Monday.

There are three different departments within the AI farm. First is collecting the boar’s semen. At 5:00 am, one of the team leaders and his crew are out collecting semen from the boars to fill the required orders given to the company to fill that day. After collection, the semen is sent to the testing room. The semen is tested for its motility rate. After the semen is tested, an extender is added. The extender is applied by another employee of the AI farm. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I had the opportunity to participate in testing the semen and then applying an extender to it to be packaged.

Once the semen is tested and applied to an extender, it is sent to the third stage of the AI Farm, packaging. In the packaging room, the temperature of the room is kept at 52 degrees F, to cool down the semen once it has reached the facility. In this facility, the semen is packaged through a machine. During this process, the semen is packaged, labeled and divided to be sent out to different farms around the state for insemination of a sow. For the work days of Thursday and Friday this week, I had the opportunity to work in packaging the semen to be sent out to other distributors.

In participating in the Artificial Insemination Farm this week, I have learned interesting aspects in regards to collecting semen from boars, testing the semen and packaging them for distribution.


This week at Prestage Farms (Mississippi Division), I completed my last week in the Artificial Insemination (AI) farm, before beginning in a new department next week. This week at the AI farm, I continued to shadow in packaging the semen to be sent out to different farms across the state. In doing so, I got to participate in the packaging process. I also witness how this machine is operated and managed to minimize machine difficulties.

On Wednesday, I saw the packaging machine have some complications in the process of packaging the semen. With each malfunction, the operator stopped the machine and showed me the problem, and we both fixed each malfunction together.

At the end of the day on Wednesday, the packaging machine operator showed me how to send a machine malfunction report to the IT department of Prestage Farms. The following day, service representative assisted with the technical issues we were encountering. One malfunction was caused due to the needle, which inserts the semen into the package, being screwed on to loose. As we looked at the needle, we realized that due to the needle being too loose, it resulted in the machine inserting the wrong amount of semen into each package. Another issue that service rep assisted with  was the package openings. With this machine, the packaging in which each semen is processed in, is also provided by the same company that issues out the machines. The service rep explained that the packages that Prestage Farms had ordered for the semen to be packaged in, was ordered during their malfunction period, which resulted in Prestage Farms receiving bad semen bags. With that, we realized that that was the cause for the multiple “Bag Malfunction” screens that appeared on the home screen of the machine, multiple times the day before.

Once fixing the problems that had occurred from the machine in the AI center, we were able to get it running again. It was running smoothly in time for us to fill the biggest order of this week, which consisted of over a hundred bags of semen to be sent to Carolina.

Friday of this week was my last day in the AI center. Many ladies within the center had brought cake and baked some pies, as a good bye present for me and the other intern. I have become fairly close to the ladies in the AI center. However, in order for me to continue to experience all the operations and departments within Prestage Farms, I will have to move to other departments. I will be working more with the genetic program of Prestage Farms next week as I move locations. I will be learning the necessary procedures that need to take place, once the piglets are born.





South Africa Study Abroad – Erin D.


Introduction photoGreetings from South Africa! My name is Erin Doll and I am twenty years old. I am a junior at Mississippi State pursuing a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This summer I am privileged with the opportunity to intern with the Safari4u Veterinary Program. For the next month I will be working with Safari4u in Cintsa, South Africa. This internship is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive understanding of animals in the African context.Throughout this program I will be given the opportunity to work with local domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife. My responsibilities will range from assisting with game capture to working on various community outreach projects. The program is under the supervision of our program vet and in coordination with many individuals in various sectors of the animal industry. This wide range of experiences will be invaluable to me as I work toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me.


This week began bright and early on Sunday morning to catch my first flight to New York. From there I met of with some other interns on my program and boarded our fifteen hour flight to Johannesburg. We then got on one last plane ride to the East London Airport where we met up with our program coordinator. After we settled into our house in Cintsa East, we did a short orientation and hit the ground running. We started by doing a postmortem exam on a bushwhack. Later in the afternoon we went to a nearby Xhosa village. There we did flea dips and deworming for dogs with the program vet.

We started out on Tuesday building a mobile vet clinic for the program. This will eventually be used to give veterinary services to communities in need. In the afternoon we went to modify a trailer for giraffe capture. For giraffe transport, the trailer must be as wind proof as possible so that the animal can stay warm during the trip because they are not able to thermoregulate as well when sedated.


Week 1_giraffe captureWe started the day very early on Wednesday at a private game reserve where we were assisting with giraffe captures. It is a complex process that involves a lot of coordination between the vet, the buyer, the seller, and even the weather. Giraffe are one of the most difficult animals to capture and transport because they are very susceptible to cardiomyopathy and due to their large size they must be walked into the trailer.


Weel 1_Bos indicusOn Thursday we started the day dipping horses for ticks and feeding. In the afternoon we visited a local farm and performed pregnancy checks on a group of cows via rectal palpation. It was interesting to see the differences in cattle breeds here as compared to the US. The majority of the cattle are Bos indicus or hybrids. We also toured the pig operation while we were there.Week 1_pig





Our week ended by taking a tour of Python Park. While we were there we were introduced to various reptile species native to parts of Africa and around the world as well as reptile handling and health. We spent the afternoon touring a commercial fish farm. We were able to observe the different stages of fish being grown out as well as the laboratory where they monitor fish health. The facility we visited is one of the only of its kind in South Africa.










SPARAO Intern – Rykkie C.


My name is Rykkie Cobb and I am currently a junior  majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. I have worked at a veterinary clinic for three years during which I did everything from sweeping floors to assisting in surgery. I pay very close attention to instructions when given.  I also have a lot of experience with horses. In addition, I have completed several equine-related courses here at Mississippi State including: horse management, equine behavior and training, therapeutic riding, and advanced equine evaluation. I also have taken reproduction. This formal instruction has helped prepare me to serve as the SPARAO intern this summer.

During my internship, I wish to gain skills that will be beneficial in my professional career and also help me to better understand the research aspect of production. I find research to be a very fascinating, so I hope to learn more about how it applies to the equine industry. I am very dedicated  to working towards my goals in life (to become a veterinarian). I believe during this internship I will  gain more knowledge that will prepare me for life after college.

Town Creek Farm – Michael A.


My name is Michael Agar and I am a rising junior in the ADS department at MSU.Although I was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but I would claim Alabama as my home state. We moved to Auburn when I was only a few months old and have a family farm in Troy, Alabama. I started to get involved in FFA and agriculture when I was in high school in North Carolina; however, when my family moved to Georgia I did not have those same opportunities and sports consumed most of my free time. Growing up, we would make frequent trips to our farm where we raise approximately 50 head of registered Angus cattle, farm pecans, and own chicken houses (layers). This sparked my interest in agriculture and specifically the livestock industry. Going into college I was excited to return to Mississippi. I hadn’t knowingly ever stepped foot in the state, being that I was an infant when we moved. My family is full of engineers who happen to farm on the side and I decided to initially follow in their footsteps when I began my freshman year of college as a mechanical engineer. Although my grades were fine I never really enjoyed the curriculum and when I switched to ADS I knew that I had found my passion. I quickly got more involved with the department as I joined collegiate cattleman’s and the collegiate livestock judging team. I have certainly enjoyed my experience so far and encourage those of you that may be reading this to give judging some thought. The benefits of joining a judging team have already had a factor on my life as it presented me with connections that landed me an internship at Town Creek Farm. Town Creek has become one of the premier Brangus breeders in the entire country when it merged with Cow Creek Farm out of Aliceville, Alabama. They own about 3,000 acres just outside West Point, MS where they primarily produce registered Brangus and Ultrablack Bulls. It is certainly something the state of Mississippi can be proud of and it is a privilege to be their first intern from Mississippi State. I look forward to sharing my experiences at Town Creek throughout the summer!

Darling 888 Ranch – Jamie T.


Intro photoMy name is Jamie Lee Thomas and I am twenty-four years old. This past year has been my first year at Mississippi State University as a senior, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Dairy Sciences with a concentration in Science/Veterinary Science. I was extremely blessed to be accepted on an Equine Reproduction internship this summer at the Darling 888 Ranch in Princeton, Kentucky working with Ms. Dina Allen and Dr. Travis Luna. During this internship I will be get experience managing broodmares and foals along with some hands-on experience that will be required when I become a Veterinarian. I assist the resident vet with things such as lavages, cultures, and ultrasounds. When I am not assisting Dr. Luna, I help Ms. Allen with whatever management practices need to be done for the day such as feeding, haying, administering daily meds, and making sure each horse is healthy and have no injuries. In our typical work week we work approximately 40 hours. I’m very excited about this internship and so far have had an excellent time!

USDA Intern – Trusten M.



Finals are quickly approaching and so is the due date for my project in the lab! I have been running samples of DNA over and over again…and once I thought I was done I had to re-run them! I have now mastered the process of making electrophoresis gels and setting up reaction mixes to run in the PCR machine. Just as any research, there has been some bumps along the way which has caused me to get behind.

Before I can start the physical mapping of the genes (the focus of the project), I must have enough data collected. I have had several samples not amplify (DNA did not show up while reading it on the computer), therefor, I had to re-run some samples with the same primers. After re-running samples I had a few amplify but still had several not amplify. I consulted Dr. Warburton during our meeting about this because I was thinking it was human error and my fault, but she said it has to do with the “PCR Fairy.” I was confused… I asked what the PCR fairy was and she said it’s a magical fairy in the lab that will sometimes give you great results while reading the gels and sometimes not give you any results. So, I learned I must be kind to this “fairy.” After discussing the issue with her, I learned that it is not my fault that I’m not getting good results…everything is just trial and error.

This week I ran over 800 more wells of DNA and set up 500 more wells to run next week. I faced the same problem this week with the 800 wells; over half of my samples did not amplify! As you can imagine I’m beginning to get annoyed. But I know that research takes time so I must be patient. So as for now you can find me in the lab doing the same thing over and over again each week until I get enough data. I am hoping after reading my next batch of DNA I will have enough data to move forward with my project. I worked a total of 16 hours in the lab this week.

Until then, I will be looking for that magical fairy dust and hoping the fairy will be on my side from now on!



Trusten_scoring gels

As you might have read in my previous journal, I have been having problems with my DNA amplifying on the electrophoresis gels. I ran my final batch of DNA and got the same results; no amplification. Since I am running out of time, I have decided to go ahead and score the DNA to move onto the mapping process. Since I have a small amount of DNA to score, mapping might be difficult.

How to score an electrophoresis gel:

To score the bands, I am labeling them A, B, or H. Trusten_scoring gels_1

A = Dominant

B = Recessive

H = Heterozygous

I must look at my primer screen to check for polymorphism and then compare those results to my gel in order to score the bands. I will look at the parents and the F1 in my gel to find which one shows to be dominant and recessive. Once I have found this information I can begin labeling the bands.

In this example, A is up and B is down as you can see in the pic. If you will notice, I have H labeled when you can see both A and B bands present in the same well.

After scoring the gel, I enter the letters into a HUGE spreadsheet in excel which is full of genetic information for the chromosomes of corn. I have now finished entering my data and will discuss with Dr. Warburton to see if I can move on or if we need to add data. With finals approaching, I surely hope we can move forward! I have worked 15 hours in the last two weeks on this project.

USDA Intern – Trusten M.


Trusten_Mastering the Master Mixer

Spring break just came to an end and I’m finally back in the U.S. and no longer stranded in Costa Rica! No joke…I was literally stranded in Costa Rica. See what happened was, two days before I was supposed to catch my flight back home, a volcano erupted, canceling over 150 flights! (I’m not making this stuff up.) It only delayed my arrival home one day, however, my four friends weren’t able to catch a flight back until Thursday- almost a week from our original departure date!

Now, that I’ve updated you on my adventurous Spring Break, back to the real world! Monday after Spring break was one that most students don’t want to relive. It was filled with homework, midterms, papers, etc. This has been a CRAZY week! Amongst my classwork, I made arrangements to finally begin my research in the maize lab. One question quickly arose… How am I going to find time to do this? I know if I want to get this project done before the semester is over then I need to be in the lab every spare minute I have. So, on Monday I began my research.

I’m going to try to make this make as much sense to non-science readers, but some of it may get confusing… so hold onto your hat, this might get bumpy!

This week I finally started with Genetic Mapping. Genetic mapping – also called linkage mapping – can offer firm evidence that a disease transmitted from parent to child is linked to one or more genes. It also provides clues about which chromosome contains the gene and precisely where it lies on that chromosome.

My first task was to amplify the parents (and we’re talking about corn parents) & the F1 (their first offspring) of 4 different mapping populations (essentially different breeds of corn). To do this, I had to order genetic markers from the factory. These markers come dehydrated, so the first step was to hydrate them with a TE buffer. Once my markers were mixed and ready to go, I had to begin making the master mix for my reactions. I quickly learned that there is a lot of math involved in a research lab! There is a specialized formula that I had to follow to create the master mix. The reaction mix that will be used in the Polymerase Chain Reaction machine contains the DNA and the master mix. I made the mix for the four populations and ran them on the PCR machine. I later ran the samples on an electrophoresis gel and got a printed sample of my DNA on the computer (view sample image of a gel reading). We found that one of the primers didn’t yield positive results and one was very weak, however, two primers yielded great results.Trusten_week 3_Figure 2

With the good results from two of my primers, I then could move on to my next step. I set up almost 800 wells of DNA on Friday and will run the samples Monday morning and then run the gels and amplify the DNA again to see if we get any new results. I worked a total of nine hours in the lab this week.

Trusten_week 3I will be honest, a lot of this is still not making a whole lot of sense to me, but I have the textbooks by my side and I’m reading as I go. By the end of this internship I will be so much more advanced in genetics than my peers in my major, but it’s not going to come easy. Anyway, I’ve got to get back to my samples!

In the lab,