For more than 50 years, students and farmers have converged on the Southwest Research Center

On Sept. 12, agriculture students from approximately 55 high schools, representing 14 counties in Southwest Missouri, as well as farmers and ranchers from across the Ozarks will arrive at the Southwest Research Center, a part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), representing a portion of the University of Missouri-Columbia, for the 56th annual Ag-Ed Field Day.

Approximately 40 speakers, from the relatively unknown to a few worldwide celebrities in their fields of expertise, will share both general and highly, specialized knowledge covering topics from beef cattle to horticulture issues including the development of the rapidly growing industrial hemp trade, to engineering matters associated with the manufacturing of ice cream, to a construction rodeo designed to provide hands-on experience for teens as they pick up and move items using heavy construction equipment.

Jendel Wolfe, a business support specialist with the research center for the past four years, outlined some of the event’s history as well as a few of the upcoming highlights of the 2019 Field Day.

“The main focus of this event, which started as two back-to-back days, has always been research. We have a total of 15 research centers throughout the state, all a part of the University of Missouri-Columbia system. Originally, there was a day for students and a day for the general public, but since one was much better attended than the other, they have now been blended into a hybrid one-day event, making better use of our resources in general. We have great support from state agencies such as the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri Extension, as well as private companies and industries such as Schreiber Foods, Tyson Foods, Hammonds, the walnut folks out of Stockton, Hyland Dairy and EFCO out of Monett.”

Dr. Christopher Daubert, vice chancellor and dean of the CAFNR, will share a presentation on the engineering of the manufacturing of ice cream.

“With ice cream begin as a dairy product, this is an important matter with Missouri agriculture, but the fact is, it will still be the last hot days of summer and that always makes ice cream especially important at this time of year,” Jandel added. “We have a beef research tour planned where we will be bussing students to different parts of the research center’s grounds to talk about beef production, a major part of Missouri’s agriculture industry, today, yesterday and of course, in the future.

“Andrew Thomas, a world-famous horticulture researcher, will also be leading a tour. And of course, our most famous stop on the tour involves the cannulated ‘hole in the side of the cow.’”

The “hole” is a surgical procedure that allows the introduction of a cannula or tube that is inserted into the animal’s side and allows the researchers to look inside the cow’s abdomen while it’s digesting the hay, grass and plant stuffs.

“Much of the day is free-floating, allowing the students to come and go around the many exhibits, learning as they go, but we do work to get the cannulated part of the tour, scheduled. In doing so, we can get all students through there, in true hands-on research where they can see and put their hand inside a live cow as it digests its food. We’ve been doing this particular display for many years now and you can imagine why. It is a truly unique hands-on research situation that few students are going to experience elsewhere.”

The entire event is free to the public and no advance registration required. There is a lunch available for a $5 donation for the public on the day of the event.

“This is truly what dynamic research is all about, getting these students involved, hopefully in ways that will last them a lifetime,” she said.


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