Kyohei Ishida has adapted well to life in the United States over the past year. Kyohei is halfway through his two-year position as the visiting researcher from the Zen-Noh agricultural Cooperative in Japan. Miner Institute and Zen-Noh have had a collaborative research relationship for more than 20 years.
Kyohei grew up in Kyoto, an area that is well known for its traditional shrines and temples and is considered one of the best preserved cities in Japan. Agriculture in the region is mostly rice and vegetable production, with some Wagyu beef, he said. Kyohei is the oldest child in his family; he has three younger sisters. His oldest and youngest sisters and his parents all still live in Kyoto. His middle sister recently started college in Korea.
Kyohei has both an undergraduate and a master’s degree from Kyoto University. He studied animal science, with an emphasis on beef cattle nutrition. He has been employed by Zen-Noh for five years. Growing up, Kyohei remembers that his family had local milk delivered daily. “I loved that milk,” he said. He always loved animals as a child and there was a beef farmer just behind his elementary school. He recalls being able to hear the cows mooing and so “it was very natural to become interested in agriculture.”
Since coming to Miner Institute in early 2016, Kyohei says that his interest in dairy cow nutrition has grown. He is especially interested in forage dynamics and ration formulation. An upcoming project this spring will focus on forage fiber digestion, he said, adding that he’s “really excited about it.”
Kyohei’s current role for Zen-Noh is to help develop new theories for improving productivity and efficiency for Japanese dairy farmers. The relationship between Miner Institute and Zen-Noh was initiated by Dr. Charlie Sniffen in the mid-1990s, when Sniffen was president of the Institute. Japan’s primary agricultural region – Hokkaido – has similar growing conditions to Chazy. That, coupled with Miner Institute’s focus on dairy nutrition and management makes the collaboration a good fit. Additionally, Kyohei visits area farms and attends conferences. He also translates and participates in Zen-Noh sponsored research projects. If he were able to request his next position at Zen-Noh, Kyohei said that he would like to do research, nutrition or extension work. He likes working with farmers and visiting farms. Ultimately, though, Zen-Noh will decide his next position when he returns to Japan in 2018.
“I really like Miner,” Kyohei says. “The people are motivated and the research is important and exciting.” Even though the area is more rural than what he is used to in Japan, Kyohei says that he likes the landscape here and enjoys snowboarding and hiking. Adapting to life in the United States was a challenge, though, he admits. “The meals here are huge!”
Joining inaugural Flanagan scholar Emma Duffy are Wyatt Smith and Victoria Vendetta, who have been named the 2017 recipients of the Stephen S. Flanagan, Frances B. Flanagan, and Stephen F. Flanagan Scholarship at Miner Institute. The scholarship fund was established in 2016 after a $1.3 million donation to Miner Institute from the late Stephen Flanagan of Plattsburgh. The scholarship was named after Mr. Flanagan and his parents.
Emma spent a year as the dairy herdsperson intern at Miner Institute and just returned to the Boston, MA area where she grew up to work on a small dairy farm with on-farm milk bottling and ice cream and butter production. Wyatt grew up on a small dairy farm about 50 miles west of the Twin Cities in MN. He has an animal science degree from the University of Minnesota and is studying dairy nutrition, with a focus on fiber digestibility at the University of Vermont through a graduate assistantship at Miner Institute. Wyatt hopes to work in nutrition consulting, and possibly have a role back on his family farm after graduating. Victoria has an animal science degree from the University of Connecticut and is an alumnus of Miner Institute’s Advanced Dairy Management program. She will be taking over for Emma as the dairy herdsperson intern; she plans to apply to vet school after completing her year-long internship at Miner Institute.