N.C. A&T’s group in front of the Animal Health Building at the Iowa State Fair. Left to right: Douglas Jones, Brianna Carter (Ph.D. student), Nina Hollomon (M.S. student), Kayla Thompson (Junior), Derrick Coble, and Haleigh Pettress (in rear, a sophomore).

By Nina Hollomon, master’s degree program student

From June 7-10, Derrick Coble, Ph.D., and Douglas Jones, swine unit coordinator and interim associate farm superintendent, accompanied four Animal Sciences students to the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA. The expo is organized by the National Pork Producer’s Council and is the largest meeting of pork producers, industry professionals, scientists, and subject matter experts in the world.

The group would like to give special thanks to the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Antoine Alston, Ph.D. for providing financial support and making this trip possible.

This trip to Iowa was eye-opening and different. The first couple of days of the trip, we went to the World Pork Expo. This was a nice experience as my colleagues and I went to different booths to speak to many companies about their products. I learned so much and even wanted to incorporate some of the products at our farm. One of the products I was interested in is was a vaccine gun that vaccinated with air pressure and no needle. It’s also attached to a larger contraption that can make castration a lot easier for swine. My colleagues and I stopped to speak to a man named George Eanock, the CEO of Osborne Livestock Equipment and Pig Farming Supplies, and he gave us an enlightening conversation about life and simplified the way of thinking. He was very impressed with us but I was more impressed with him.

We then took some trips to a few farms in the city. We visited the largest swine producing farm in the country, Select Farms. They gave us a tour and told us about their operations. They go through about 10 tons of food in a week and keep a tight protocol on biosecurity. The other farms were pretty similar but much smaller. The second farm we visited was a family farm; it was very nice that it was a family business that was running successfully, with more than 10 pigs on site.

The group toured the Iowa State Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex, which is in the final stages of construction. Anthony (Tony) Ewing, the facility’s manager and associate director, and Theressa Cooper, Ph.D., assistant dean of diversity for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, joined the group in front of the Feed Mill Complex.

The next day, we visited Iowa State University with Dr. Coble. It was nice seeing a school that is centered in the number one pork producing state because the history of agriculture is deeply ingrained. A school that has great funding and is geared towards agriculture was an amazing sight to see, as I want to keep pursuing a career in this field. We also saw the feed mill that is still being built at Iowa State. We were the first people to see it and it is huge, nothing like what I thought it would be. I found out a lot of information about how processing works. I even learned some information about the veterinary school that’s on campus, as I want to go to vet school. We got to meet some great pioneers in the agriculture field; the main one that stuck out to me was Sue Lamont. She was the first woman president of Iowa State, which of course is a huge accomplishment. She had an amazing story to tell us about how she got to where she is today. And I can only assume that’s going to happen to me. I originally didn’t even plan to come to grad school, but I am here now, and the path to vet school hasn’t been what I originally envisioned but wherever I end up I know it’ll be worth it.