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

Beef Extension Intern: Trusten Moore


My name is Trusten Moore and I am a senior, majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. You might have read some blogs of mine in the past! Throughout my time at Mississippi State, I have had the amazing opportunity to complete three internships, two of which I gained a class credit for. My first internship was with the USDA, doing research on corn, followed by a summer spent living in Ocala, Florida, working at a specialty equine practice and small animal emergency center. These internships have given me so many connections and have helped me explore many options as a future veterinarian, and for this, I am thankful!

As I was preparing for my last semester, I wanted to find another internship. This semester Dr. Brandi Karisch and Mr. Cobie Rutherford took me under their wing as the Beef Extension Intern. When I first interviewed for the position, I was a little afraid. I was never raised around cattle, so I as afraid I was not the right person for the job. Actually… I knew NOTHING about the industry! Ok… maybe I have been taught the basics in my ADS classes, but still, this was a new world to me! We discussed some upcoming projects with extension and the various roles I had in these projects. Dr. Karisch assured me that I will be fine and that this will be a great learning opportunity.

So, the semester begins…

The semester was off to a busy start! I was hired at a local animal hospital, which made my schedule even more hectic. When I was not in the classroom, I was working. When I was not working, I was studying. As you can imagine, finding a way to manage everything was most definitely a challenge.

My first project of the semester was A.I. (Artificial Insemination) School. This is a weekend class available through the Beef Extension Services. Our goal for this class is to educate producers on artificial insemination and how it can better their production. This class was composed of 30 producers from several different states. We had lectures, wet labs, and hands-on labs throughout the three-day course. I was in charge of helping facilitate the event. I helped get materials ready the week of the event and made sure they were put out and in the right spot during the event. The best part of this event was when I got to “glove-up” and help teach! I have always loved to teach and plan to go into academia as a veterinarian, so teaching producers how to A.I. was such a fun and rewarding experience. This was a moment when I was able to see that my education at Mississippi State has most definitely paid off! Every question that the producers asked me, I was able to answer.

My next big project that I had the opportunity to help with was the Beef Quality Assurance training. This is a program put into place to educate producers on the quality of the product they are producing and how they can improve the quality. Meetings are held throughout the state, and I was able to attend the meeting in Tate County. I helped get the supplies ready and helped with registration. The training consists of doctors from the vet school, beef extension specialists, and extension agents leading the lectures. Participants must sit through the lecture and pass an exam at the end. I passed! I am now Beef Quality Assurance certified! I am glad I had this opportunity because I now know the important roles that our producers play in maintaining good quality meat for consumers. I was also able to use this experience in a recent vet school interview! Isn’t that cool?

These were my two main projects that I was able to help with this year. These projects have helped me grow in the cattle industry and have shown me the many opportunities that extension has to offer. I want to thank Dr. Karisch and Mr. Rutherford for taking me on this semester and for being fantastic role models for the beef industry.

As always, being involved in internships during an undergraduate education is something that I highly recommend to current and prospective students. These internships have given me connections all around the country, which can come in handy later in life. As I sit and reflect on my education at Mississippi State, I am very thankful. I am thankful for the Animal and Dairy Sciences department and the direction this department is heading. I am thankful for all of my professors and the rest of our faculty in this department. My time in Starkville has been unforgettable! Now it is time to walk across that stage and begin a new chapter.

Signing out,

Trusten MooreIMG_7037

FFA Leadership Intern – Liz W.


Liz_week 4_1Mrs. Gayle had to go to Jackson to get ready for Dixie Nationals, so my office work was cut short (so sad). At the beginning of the week, we worked on organizing plaques and trophies for the FFA contests. That was a pain in the butt because Mrs. Gayle’s office was jam-packed with cardboard boxes that we had to unwrap and sort out. We separated the North, South, and Central awards, then the Junior and Senior, then the different events for each award. Then we had to take out all the trophies, which were huge, and make sure everything was spelled correctly and none of them were broken (a couple of them were). These trophies and plaques won’t be used until later in the year, but it was a weight off our shoulders to get the boxes out of the office and organize a little.

Since Mrs. Gayle left Starkville early, I got a good bit of the week off, but things picked up pretty fast once I got to Jackson. I got to the FFA Center on Friday night. Mrs. Gayle made us red beans and rice for dinner (love her) and I got to meet the senior officers. Some members from other counties came to stay at the Center, and everyone got settled in for the night.

Liz_week 4_2

Saturday morning came pretty fast. The first weekend of Dixies was the livestock shows, and I helped with weigh-backs for the hog shows. The judge would sort out a couple hogs that he didn’t want to place, would send them back, and we’d help guide them to the barns. Then he would pick three or four that were his top picks. He’d send those back and we’d have to guide them to the scales where they’d get weighed. If the animal didn’t weigh the class requirements or differed from what was originally recorded, it was automatically disqualified. We only had one animal get disqualified from weigh-backs. I met a lot of the extension agents for various counties while helping.

Liz_week 4_3On Sunday, I helped with random drug testing and drug testing the winning steers. This was…interesting. Basically I had to follow any randomly selecting or winning animal around with a pee cup and a clipboard with all its information. There were a couple perks of this job: I got to get up close and personal (real personal) with some of the steers in the sale of champions. I got to watch the steer show all day. Most importantly (to me), I got to network. I met a ton of extension agents and some teachers from all around the state. Coincidentally, I was paired with the extension agent from the county that I’d like to end up in, and she told me a lot of insightful things. I loved watching the steer show because the kids are so proud of their animal and all their little outfits are so cute.

On Monday, I decided to skip class (sorry Mom) and stay in Jackson to help out some more. I was given the job of taking pictures of all the champions and sending them to the Commissioner of Agriculture for Mississippi. This was awesome because I got to sit all day and watch the shows, then I got to congratulate the winners and take their picture under the 50th anniversary sign. I had to email all those pictures to the Commissioner. All those kids were so excited, and it was so cute! Frustrating though, because sometimes it took 20 minutes to get the animal to stand still for a picture.

All in all, it was a super busy, exhausting weekend, but it was definitely worth it. I learned a lot about the different shows and how much work it is to have a show animal. I also learned about some of the controversy that takes place at any livestock show.   I met a lot of people that had advice for me about finishing school (some dude said I should move to Texas..okay). I wish I could have stayed all week!


I am so fortunate to have this internship. It has led me to many other opportunities to further my understanding of agricultural education. During my spring break, I spent several days in an Ag classroom observing a teacher.

I have starting planting roots in Mississippi, and I’ve discovered that I would really like to live on the Gulf Coast. I’ve made several connections with people in that area, and my ideal teaching job would be in Jackson County. I reached out to a teacher at East Central High School, and he said he would be very happy to have me in his Ag classroom for a couple days.

Liz_week 5_1 I had so much fun this week! I learned a lot about teaching in general, and of course about teaching Ag. I realized that, even though I’m about to graduate from college, I’m really not a very good adult. I discovered that it’s probably going to be a challenge for me to be these kids’ teacher, and not be their friend. Some of the seniors were only two years younger than me! This reassured me that I definitely want to go to grad school. I want to become as good of a teacher as I can be.

The teacher that I shadowed was also the high school baseball coach, so he had a pretty busy schedule. I played volleyball throughout high school, and had considered being a high school coach, but he kind of changed my mind. I know that every school/teacher/person is different, but he opened my eyes to how time consuming being a teacher is, and coaching on top of that. Definitely something to think about.

Liz_week 5_2East Central has a pretty nice greenhouse, but that’s all they have. They don’t have any hands-on curriculum involving animals, and that’s something that this teacher wants to improve. He told me that one day he wants to have show goats that his students can practice with and take to local and state shows.

The curriculum in his lessons wasn’t really what I was expecting. I guess my background in ADS has taken over my brain because I was expecting everything to be about animals, which it wasn’t. He talked about soils and plants the week that I was there. It reminded that I still have a lot to learn about agriculture.

While most of my friends went to the mountains or the beach for spring break, I went back to high school. As lame as that is, I had an awesome time and learned a whole lot. I brainstormed how I would teach my lessons and decorate my classroom and what I would grow in my greenhouse. As this semester goes on, I become more and more excited about becoming and agriculture teacher.

ADS Ambassador – Chase W.

WEEK 2 & 3

These past few weeks have been filled with internship activities! (So filled that I am slow on my blogging). This internship has been such a fulfillment of everything I expected it to be and more. I wanted to meet people, and that’s exactly what I have been able to do.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have managed to accomplish several tasks. I was able to put some work into our ADS recruitment power point that we use at our recruitment events. It’s not completely polished yet. My goal is to not only make it look nice and flow well; but for my larger goal, I want to make a recruitment video of what the Animal and Dairy Sciences department at Mississippi State is all about. I think a video would be widely used for our department and could showcase our many impressive units, animals, and students.

In addition, I was also able to continue to give several tours to prospective students. Through my recent tours, I have discovered a new recruitment challenge, recruiting those who are transferring or have already been to college at another location. It’s easy to talk to high school freshmen about college; it is much different when you are talking to someone who already knows what college is all about. In some ways, it’s easier to talk with transfer students because they know what they are looking for; and in other ways, it’s more difficult to talk with them because they know what they are looking for. All in all, I have found that talking to any recruit, transfer or high school, has been highly rewarding, and I’m glad for the new opportunity to take on this new challenge of recruiting transfer students. Most are extremely open to everything I have to say and are usually very excited about what our ADS program has to offer.

Chase and John Wayne

One of the most important events that happened in my internship recently was an event called “Academic Insight.” This event is for high school seniors that have been accepted into Mississippi State’s College of Ag and Life Sciences. I worked closely with Mrs. Jessica Graves to ensure that the Animal and Dairy Sciences students were able to see what our department has in store for them. Potential students were able to see our horse unit (along with the mini horse John Wayne, pictured); some brave students dared to reach their hand into one of our cannulated steers at the beef unit.DSC_0036

Students were also able to tour MSU’s award-winning dairy farm to see exactly where our dairy products come from. Finally, the students were taken back to the Wise Center for a tour of some Animal and Dairy Sciences classrooms and to see some of the many clubs and organizations in our department. Also at the Wise Center, a wet lab was set up so that students could get their hands dirty with some actual animal organs and other fun activities. My duties during this event was to ensure that everything was running smoothly and to take pictures of the many events that took place. DSC_0107

 Overall, my internship thus far has been extremely exciting with the many events taking place. With so much happening, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and stressed! When I do feel like I have too much on my college plate, I remember Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” With this, I know my plans for school and this internship will succeed, and I can’t wait to see what else this internship has in store for me!

FFA Leadership Intern – Liz Wardell

Liz WardellMy name is Liz Wardell and I’m a senior from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I’m an Army brat, so I have lived all over the place. I came to Mississippi State not knowing a soul, and that’s something I would do a thousand times over again. I have truly enjoyed my past three years here, and I look forward to sticking around for a few more.

People always ask  what brought me to MSU from Kentucky, and the answer is vet school. I grew up always wanting to be a vet. I wanted anything and everything to do with animals. I was the kid that brought her cat to show-and-tell and had a legit funeral for her hamster. I wanted my own horse for as long as I can remember, and I finally got one my freshman year of high school. Animals have always been a huge part of my life.

Although I originally came here to pursue vet school, that’s not where I’m going to end up. It took me two years to decide that I didn’t want to go to vet school, and it was a really tough decision to make. After shuffling through a bunch of Plan Bs, I decided I wanted to stay in school a little longer and get a Master of Science degree. I have loved being a part of Animal and Dairy Sciences, but I was ready for a change of pace, so I started an application for grad school with Agricultural and Extension Education. This means that I will be a high school Ag teacher, and I’ll be part of an FFA chapter, potentially an advisor. This is something that is completely new to me, because I was never a part of FFA or 4-H when I was growing up. I’m really looking forward to learning everything I can about these programs.That being said, I’m doing an internship this semester with Mrs. Gayle Fortenberry, who is current the FFA Coordinator for the state of Mississippi. I met Mrs. Gayle at the State Fair last semester, when I volunteered with the Children’s Barnyard. Mrs. Gayle is responsible for getting all the FFA events together in the state, and she has very close relationships with Mississippi’s FFA advisors, chapters, and members. Over the next couple months, I will be helping her organize paperwork for events and assisting at livestock shows and FFA events. Since I have little to no experience with FFA and 4-H, Mrs. Gayle is putting me directly into the situations that I need to get used to for the career that I’m pursuing.

I’m super excited to finish up my degree here at State in ADS and continue my education in a different department. I can’t wait to spend the semester with Mrs. Gayle and share my experiences via this blog.

MSU Meat Lab Intern – Chris Deignan


My name is Chris Deignan, and I’m a senior in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This semester I am working under Dr. Liao with Mr. Tim Armstrong in the MSU Meat Laboratory in Ballew Hall. I really enjoyed the hands on experience and knowledge that I gained while enrolled in Intro to Meats Processing, so I was eager to begin my work here. I was able to spend 7.5 hours working this week performing duties required in the every-day procedures of a processing facility. Along with the help of another student working, I prepared jerky by stacking slices of beef into a container in single rows, and then spreading jerky seasoning liberally all around. More beef was then layered on top, and more seasoning spread. This was repeated until all of the meat was used, and it was then mixed vigorously until it was relatively even. Finally, it was covered and stored in the cooler for smoking the following morning.

In the process of daily extraction and preparation of meat, a there comes a large need for proper cleaning of equipment. After the equipment is done being used for the day, everything is then washed, scrubbed, and rinsed thoroughly. These are what I like to refer to as ‘character-building experiences’, as they require a good bit of elbow grease. Luckily, I will be able to invest much of my time in building my character up this semester! In all seriousness, I really do enjoy the work that I get to partake in at this facility.


This week at the meat lab was yet another interesting experience. I got to learn how to use a vacuum sealer in order to package beef jerky produced at by the meat lab. As I am completely unfamiliar with equipment of this type, it was cool just to watch it in action, but it sealed the jerky very effectively. As I learned last week, work in this facility creates a large need for equipment to be cleaned, so I spent a good bit of time cleaning things such as the smoker, the racks that hold meat in the smoke room, and scrubbing plenty of sinks. The students in Meat Science class began their harvest  this week, but I was unable to attend it; hopefully I will be able to be there next week to assist. I am very much enjoying the work environment in the lab, as everyone is very easy going and has a good sense of humor. I normally work on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons, but there was little to do on Tuesday, giving me a total of 6 hours for this week. I am looking forward to participating in a more labor intensive experience as the semester progresses!

ADS Ambassador – Chase Waldrip

My name is Chase Waldrip, and I am excited to be serving as the first ever Animal and Dairy Sciences Ambassador Intern! I am a senior at Mississippi State from Southaven, Mississippi. I enjoy anything to do with being outdoors or being with my dog (Bilbo). As a student in the Early Entry Program of the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine, I am immensely enthusiastic about my future with aspiring hopes of becoming a veterinarian.

Chase Waldrip

Chase Waldrip

One of my favorite things to do is meet new people; and with this internship, I am provided with opportunities every day. Already, I have been able to provide three ADS tours to prospective students from Alabama, Virginia, and Illinois. I am looking forward to traveling to several events in the next few months and sharing what our department is all about! Right now I am working on developing a structured South Farm tour, editing the Animal and Dairy Sciences powerpoint used at recruitment events, and keeping in touch with students looking to attend Mississippi State through our department.

I cannot wait to see what opportunities lie ahead through this internship. My goal is to see an increase in the numbers of ADS students throughout this semester by getting the word out about all that our department has to offer! If I were to apply one statement to my goal through this internship, it would be, as it says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

-Chase Waldrip

Meet USDA Intern – Trusten Moore


My name is Trusten Moore and I am a senior, majoring in Animal & Dairy Sciences, from Batesville, MS. I live in Starkville with my golden retriever, Oakley (pictured with me), and my friend Tarver that I met in State Singers- our university choir. Starkville has become my Trusten_profilesecond home, and I will miss when the time comes to move away, but who cares about the sappy stuff! Let us focus on my experiences while I am here!

During our childhood, we all have been asked one common question: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I remember being asked this question when I was in kindergarten, shortly after taking a class tour of a local veterinary hospital down the road from our school. The obvious answer was to be a veterinarian! Little did I know, while taking that tour that I would find myself working at that very same animal clinic in high school. I worked as a veterinary assistant for three years at South Panola Veterinary Hospital, under the guidance of Dr. Sharp and Dr. Newcomb. During the end of my senior year, my schedule became so busy that I had to resign. A year later, I began working at Family Pet Hospital, also located in Batesville. I embraced the new work place and the new learning experiences; however, I still held SPVET close to my heart. To this very day, I have upheld my position at Family Pet working under Drs. Unruh, and this upcoming fall will mark my third year with them and sixth year total of working at a small animal hospital.

If you ask me today what I want to be when I grow up, I will still respond with ‘a veterinarian.’ So what does working with corn have to do with becoming a vet? Believe it or not, quite a lot, actually! Veterinarians are scientists that are charged with the task of providing animals with the best quality of life possible. In turn, that quality of life is sustained by proper nutrition, and corn itself is a substantial example of nourishment. So, by learning the genetic makeup of corn, we can help improve the quality of the crop; therefore, helping improve the product that our animals consume and ultimately the animal’s life as a whole.

This semester I have been given a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work in a lab with scientists for the USDA, studying the genetic makeup of Maize. Throughout the semester I will take on my own research under the guidance of Dr. Warburton and Dr. Haynes (pictured above). I will get the chance to learn how to map the location of a candidate gene in maize. I will broaden my knowledge of genetics by learning about Mendelian inheritance, linkage mapping, QTL mapping, and genetic sequencing, all while touching topics pertaining to plant breeding, bioinformatics, and molecular genetics.

I am so excited to take on this task, but I understand that this will be challenging, seeing that my last three years of college have been geared toward a more applied part of animal science. I will learn a lot and will be able to apply a great number of these methods towards animal research as well. This is going to be such a rewarding experience and will also be something that will strengthen my application for vet school this fall!

This is going to be an aMAIZEing experience, and I cannot wait for you to join me on this journey by keeping up with my weekly journals.

Signing out,

Trusten Moore

Beef Extension Intern-Tucker W.

Blog post Week 12 & 13

Week 12 was a big week for us in Beef Cattle Extension, the Fall BCIA Sale. This is another one of the big events that we have been preparing for all semester. The BCIA sale is an opportunity for producers with just few bulls to market their bulls through a live auction sale format. On Monday I helped gather the last bit of things to take with us on the sale Wednesday. On Wednesday morning we left for Raymond to prepare for the sale the next day. Once there we had ensure early arriving bulls were in correct pens. We then had to take weights on the bulls also giving them a visual score to help determine sale order. Then that night we had to prepare dinner for the BCIA meeting. Thursday was the sale and my job was to help check out buyers with their purchases. Helping with a sale like this you truly realize the time and effort that goes into them along with the amount of man power needed for a sale to run successfully.

Believe it or not just because a sale is over doesn’t mean the work is done so week 13 was spent finalizing and putting things away from the sale. Earlier in the week Tyler and I took all the stuff we had used out of the storage unit back. While there we also reorganized some things and put up another shelving unit. On Friday we printed out letters to send to consignors and buyers informing them of sale averages and future dates. Along with the letters we will send out detailed invoices for each producer’s records. We should finish these up Monday and have them ready to send out to the buyers and consignors.DSC_0422 (Mobile)