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.





Beef Extension Intern: Robert Loftin

2016 BEEF 101 (60)Hello,

My name is Robert Loftin and I am a graduating senior.  I chose to pursue an internship in extension this semester to help familiarize myself with the daily routine of an Extension Agent.  Being that I own beef cattle, this was the ideal position for me as a student.

During my time as an Extension Intern, I have been able to experience the preparation that is involved with events made available for Mississippi producers.  The first big event of the semester was the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) sale in Raymond, Mississippi at Hinds Community College.  Weeks before the sale, I helped create the catalogs that would be sent to prospective bull buyers containing information about the bulls that were being auctioned.  The night before the sale, I was able to interact with producers from the state at the BCIA meeting.  During the sale, I helped work the bulls through the chute during the auction.  Interacting with producers was my favorite part.  In the Ag industry, making connections is crucial.

The next event I helped with was Beef Day at Mississippi State.  It was designed for beef cattle producers to learn more about the different cuts of meat and how to figure out carcass data such as Rib Eye Area, back fat, and the USDA grade and how these are determined The meat lab had a steer for the producers to fabricate into wholesale cuts of meat. The best part of Beef Day was eating the Ribeye steaks that Dr. Dinh and Dr. Burnett cooked, now those were good!

Later on in the week was the highly anticipated Artificial Insemination School.  I had helped to prepare for it by putting together binders for people that attended the course.  During AI school, I met a lot of people and helped move cattle and assist people with their insemination techniques.  It was a great few days and I learned a lot about Artificial Insemination.

As an Extension Intern, I learned so much about the events that Mississippi State Extension puts on and I also learned a lot about the day-to-day paperwork that these events entail.  Before my internship, I was unaware of all the preparation that Brandi, Cobie and Mari do to make these informative events, possible.  Thank you to Mississippi State Extension for allowing me this experience.

Robert Loftin

Beef Extension Intern: Ryan Smith


My name is Ryan Smith; I am a senior majoring in Animal and Dairy Science. I have enjoyed my 3 years at Mississippi State University and have learned a lot in my time of being here. I have gained a lot of knowledge over the years that have benefited me as a farmer on my family’s beef farm.

During my last semester at MSU I had the opportunity to complete an internship in beef cattle extension. Through my internship I gained knowledge about the beef industry that will benefit me as I try to expand my herd, market cattle through different channels and properly care for the animals.

I had to complete an internship for my major and after talking to Dr. Brandi Karisch, Beef Cattle Extension Specialist, I decided to do the beef extension internship. I felt like I could benefit from this one the most for my personal and professional career goals. During my internship I worked side by side with Dr. Karisch and Mr. Cobie Rutherford on all of the projects they had going on during the semester.

The first project I had to work on was getting information ready for the Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) bull sale in Raymond, MS. For this I had to help put together the sale catalog and data in on the bulls for the catalog. I also helped with getting the catalogs sent out to producers and potential buyers. One the day before the sale went the sale location to start preparing for the sale and checking in the bulls. That night we helped with the annual BCIA meeting and served the members dinner. The next day at the sale I assisted with the sale bringing the bulls through the ring.


The next big project I assisted with was artificial insemination (AI) school. This is a weekend class from Thursday night till Saturday at noon educating producers about the benefits of using AI and how to do it properly. This class is composed of hands-on experience, wet labs, and in class learning. I helped to get the material ready for the class and help the producers in learning how to properly AI. During the hands-on lab I assisted with checking passes and helping the producers with trying to get a better grasp on the process and giving them advice on better techniques for performing the process.

Another project I had to do was help get material ready for Law Enforcement Training and Beef Quality Assurance. The Law Enforcement Training program was to assist law enforcement officers with properly handling of livestock when they run into them on the job. This was a great course for officers because there are several times when they are on the job and have to deal with livestock and they do not have the proper training to handle them and end up scaring the livestock more. The Beef Quality Assurance is a course for producers to help them with proper handling of livestock and proper ways to treat livestock such as where to give injections.

One of the last things I did was write an article for the BCIA newsletter. For this article I call Mr. Danny Martin “BCIA President” and interviewed him about his life and plans while being the president of the association. After talking to Mr. Martin a series of questions I took the information he gave me and wrote an article to be published in the newsletter.


.             Doing this internship was one of my greatest decisions in my career as an ADS major at Mississippi State University. This taught me a lot of things about the beef cattle industry and extension. I would encourage any student especially that is interested in beef cattle and extension to do this internship. I have made several contacts during this internship with some great people that will be very useful later on in my life and career. I am very thankful for my career at MSU and everything I have learned while I have been in the ADS department. The people in the department are, just like every other livestock producer I have met, some of the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They will go out of their way to help you out and try to teach you everything they can. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at MSU and am looking forward to graduating and going on to the next step in my life.



Ryan Smith

Teaching Youth about Sheep:ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a nearby county to teach them about sheep

“Speaking of Sheep”

“What are those fluffy white animals that you see on a farm, and why do we have them?” This was the question we asked around sixty kindergartners from in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 11, 2016. Our main project for our Animal and Dairy Sciences senior capstone class was to design and create an “activity box” to teach children about a specific farm animal and why they are significant to the world. Based on our experience with different animals, our group was assigned the animal we had the least experience working with – sheep.

Finding a time for five seniors to all meet up and develop our prop box proved to be difficult; so, our group strategy for the county prop box project was to divide and conquer. We split up the task evenly so everyone had a job to do. Therefore, our “prop box” consisted of five sections: an introductory “Q & A” about sheep and why we have them, a herding activity, a shearing activity, a “feel box”, and a take-home sheep activity book. The introduction included basic information about sheep with a few pictures, and we gave each child their own sheep to use for the subsequent activities (the “sheep” were balloons with faces drawn on them). For the herding activity, the children used shepherd’s canes to herd their “sheep” into a “feeding pen” in a relay-race fashion; and once the sheep were all herded, we informed the children about different forms of feed that they could give to their sheep. After all the sheep were “fed”, the children brought their sheep over to be sheared. For this activity, we placed shaving cream on each child’s balloon sheep to simulate wool; the children then used a tongue depressor to “shear” their sheep. Following the release of the sheep back into the pasture after shearing, the young students were able to participate in a “feel box” activity. The “feel box” was a shoe box with a hole cut into three of the sides with a curtain over each hole so that one could not peek inside. Each separated portion of the shoe box contained a different material: silk, cotton, or wool. After having felt inside each compartment, the children would guess which hole contained the wool before we opened the shoe box to reveal the materials inside.

We were surprised at how receptive the students were to learning about sheep. When we asked the children about their favorite part of the day, they had a wide range of answers, but the general consensus was that the “shearing” activity was the most popular. They were also very excited when they each received their own balloon sheep to care for during our presentation. The teachers informed us that the students never really had the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities like those we provided. The hardest part of the day was keeping a few of the more excitable students focused on the task at hand; however, whenever the students’ teachers were in the room, they all seemed to be on their best behavior. When we asked each class if they had fun learning about sheep, the answer was always a loud “yes!” At the end of each class, we reviewed the students on their new knowledge about sheep, and they were usually able to answer all of our questions. Some of the other funny quotes from the children were “this is so magical!” and “this was probably the best day of my life.”

As we prepare to do a similar activity for the upcoming “Afternoon on the Farm,” we hope to be able to use live sheep in our presentation. After the response we received from the balloon sheep, we believe it will really help the students to be able to see and feel a live sheep (with real wool) while we teach them about these fluffy farm creatures. This was an incredible experience for our group. A much different understanding comes from teaching students rather than always being taught. We had fun enlightening these young children about a part of agriculture that they may have never been able to learn much about, and we were cheerful that the students were excited to learn about the importance of sheep and had fun in the process.

Teaching Youth about Dairy Cattle: ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note:  This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about dairy cattle.

This semester we became known as “The Dairy Group”. Our job was to create a
presentation aimed at teaching Junior 4-H kids about the dairy industry. Our first step was to have a group meeting to discuss which areas we wanted to highlight to the students. We wrote out different activity ideas and decided on the ones we liked best. We had hands-on activities to explain the topics of dairy products, feeds, the milking process, and identification. We split the group up in order for each member to more specifically focus on a section of the project. This allowed for a more developed presentation.
On March 8th, we met 15 students at the Clay County Extension Office and spent half an
hour teaching them about our semester’s work. They all had a fantastic time learning to milk a cow and seeing that chocolate milk does not come from a brown cow. They were able to learn about the weight of a gallon of milk and the importance of a variety of feedstuffs. Since there were so many students, we were not able to have one on one time, however the multitude of parents helped to keep the kids focused and attentive. At the end of the night, we were showered with questions from both students and adults alike. Each child went home with a simulated ration made out of different types of candy. Overall, the majority of the group was very attentive and responsible for their sections of the presentation. We enjoyed the project and learning how to interact with students on their level while still teaching them something new. The experience as a whole was interesting and positive.

Teaching Youth about Pigs: ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note:  This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about pigs.

Here Piggy Piggy! This semester our group was assigned the swine species. We were
tasked with teaching 6 cloverbud students all about pigs in a manner that targeted their interests and attention level. With such a small group, we were able to give one on one attention during each of our 3 activities. We had an amazing time getting to know the students and teaching them about an industry that affects everyday life. Though the kids enjoyed all the activities, they were particularly fond of playing in the simulated mud. We had an abundance of questions and interaction between the students and their parents, as well as with us. Each child had an area that they were more familiar with, however everyone left with new knowledge. At the end of the presentation, each student took home a bag of mud, a separate bag of bacon and pepperonis, a pig head cut out used for ear notching identification, and a mobile that showed multiple products obtained from pigs.

Our strategy for this presentation was to break down the activities into 3 main sections. We had product, nutrition/health, and identification sections with a hands on activity attached to each. Since we had 6 members in our group, we split and had 2 “teachers” per activity. We had group meetings to discuss each activity and to gather supplies. Every person worked diligently to develop their part of the presentation thoroughly. Overall, the entire group was pleased with our progress and deem this presentation a major success.


Teaching Youth about Beef Cattle: ADS 4221 Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about beef production

Our capstone group was assigned beef cattle for our topic and Webster County for our presentation location. We had several activities planned for the Cloverbuds, ages 4-8. We first briefly explained the difference between beef and dairy cows. We then showed them the basic parts of the cow on a poster we had made and pictures of different breeds. We then went over the history and purpose of branding and had them make their own brands with pipe cleaners. They then stamped their pipe cleaners on a cow outline with paint to “brand” their cows. Next, we had them make puppets and “tagged” the puppets’ ears with a hole punch, while we explained the reason for ear tagging. We also passed around a real brand and samples of feed for them to examine.

There was an education graduate student present that asked the children questions before and after our activities. It was evident that the children grasped the concepts presented in the lecture, as they were all able to easily answer her questions. All of our activities were very hands-on based, which we feel made the children better able to pay attention and learn from the experience. The youth were very well behaved and responsive to us. They were eager to do all of the activities and seemed to enjoy themselves. Our group had a fun time participating in this project with the 4H children of Webster County.