Carrie Ostrowski spent the summer of 2008 at Miner Institute as a Summer Experience in Equine Management student and then returned in late summer 2009 as the year-long equine intern. She returned again to Miner in early August to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Summer Experience in Equine Management program with about a dozen or so other alumni for the first-ever reunion. “It’s like coming home,” Carrie said.
Carrie lives in Kentucky where she works for AFLAC, and also trains, competes, and gives lessons for Combined Driving Events and carriage driving. Ashley McCallion also visited Miner from Kentucky for the reunion. Ashley was a summer student in 2014 and now works as a broodmare groomer at a Thoroughbred breeding farm. Her summer at Miner, she said, was “such a great experience.”
The Summer Experience in Equine Management program is one of three paid internship programs for undergraduate students offered at Miner Institute. The Summer Experience in Farm Management program was launched in 1982 and the Summer Experience in Agricultural Research program began in 2006. Each program is a 13-week hands-on skill building experience that prepares students for careers in agriculture and/or graduate or vet school.
For Lauren Offutt, the ability to do some reproduction work this summer has piqued her interest in working on a breeding farm. She said that she also really enjoyed training her project pony, HD Jefferson. She experienced a “strange colliding of worlds” when one of her Colorado State University instructors came to Miner as part of the 30-year reunion. Ryan Brooks teaches in the equine science department at Colorado State. Ryan spent the summer of 2006 at Miner Institute as a summer experience student and then returned in fall 2007 for the yearlong internship after earning his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. Ryan said that he had “so much fun” at Miner Institute. He fondly remembers when his project horse, HD Essex was sold to a farm in England.
The most notable graduate of the program now oversees it; she has educated and inspired dozens of equine program alumni. Karen Lassell was a student at the University of New Hampshire when she first came to Miner Institute in 1989 as a Summer Experience in Equine Management student. After graduation, she returned to Miner Institute as a year-long equine intern working with Katie Ballard, who was managing the equine program. “She had the best hair ever,” Katie recalls about Karen. In 1992, then-president Charlie Sniffen asked Katie if she would become the director of the research program. Katie took on the task of building a research program and Karen took over the equine program, which she has managed since.
Samantha Dobbins was a Summer Experience in Equine Management student in 2014 and is currently wrapping up her time as the yearlong equine intern. She said that as a teacher Karen “instills a lot of trust” in her students and manages to stay calm in tense situations. Karen’s style is great for building confidence, Sam said. Even if you doubt your own abilities, she said, Karen will assure you that you can do it. “It’s a little bit of a tough love style,” she said. But it works.
Jess Hoffman spent the summer of 2000 at Miner as a summer student. She came back as the yearlong intern in 2001-02. “The program is awesome. You learn so much about yourself and about horses,” she said. Jess is a senior technician at Vermont Integrated Genomics. In 2016, she became the proud owner of a Miner Morgan when she purchased HD Mexico.
Karen encourages students to always be willing to learn new things and have open minds about new ways of doing things, Katie said. She doesn’t pretend to know everything and is always learning herself, Katie said. Karen’s involvement in the Champlain Valley Morgan Horse Association and the NY State Horse Council helps to increase awareness of Miner Institute and its equine program. “Genuinely she’s interested in the mission of Miner Institute,” Katie said. “It goes beyond the horses. She’s a real advocate for William Miner’s vision.”
As much as I would prefer to bury my head under my pillow and pretend that ticks don’t exist and don’t present a risk to my family, I know that awareness is powerful and I have already pulled a tick off my 5-year-old daughter’s scalp, so I have vowed to arm myself with information.
On June 15, we were fortunate to welcome Melissa Stone, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences at SUNY Albany for a talk. Melissa is enthusiastic about ticks and I am grateful for that. Personally, I am repulsed by them, but am pleased that someone is willing to study them and tell the rest of us how to be safe. Melissa’s research focuses on the ecology of Lyme disease and the evolution of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.
Ticks are parasitic arachnids and feed on the blood of small mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles. There are four types of ticks that have been found in New York State that can transmit diseases to humans – the deer tick; the American dog tick; the Lone star tick; and the woodchuck tick. The deer tick is the only tick that carries the bacteria that transmits Lyme disease and is prevalent in most areas of the state. There are at least a dozen other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, though Lyme disease is the most common in NY State. If Lyme disease is caught early, it is typically treated successfully with antibiotics.
Ticks do not fly or jump, but some ticks, like the Lone star tick, actually crawl toward their host when they sense them in the vicinity. For example, Melissa says, “if you were to go for a walk in the woods and stop to tie your shoe and take a drink, these ticks could catch up to you from many meters away. But, if you were to walk away from them before they got too close, they probably wouldn't be able to catch up.” Most ticks quest – cling to leaves or grass with their first set of legs outstretched and wait for their host to pass. Ticks are “vectors” which can transmit diseases from animals to humans. They can transmit bacteria and infections that they’ve picked up from any previous hosts they have fed on. Ticks tend to live in shady, grassy areas but also in lawns and gardens and at the edge of woods and around old stone walls. They like dark, moist protected areas and will seek out those areas once they find a host. Ticks will crawl into belly buttons, the base of the neck and scalp, behind ears, armpits, etc.
Ticks are most active in the spring, summer, and fall. It certainly is not practical to avoid being outside during the most desirable times of the year for outdoor activities! To help protect yourself, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks are easier to spot. Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants, to give ticks less access to your exposed skin. Do daily tick checks on yourself, your children and pets. Stay on marked trails when hiking and try to walk in the center of the trail. Tie back long hair when gardening and doing activities outdoors that would allow ticks to crawl up your hair and onto your scalp. Take a bath or shower after spending time outside to help wash off any ticks that haven’t yet attached and to more easily find any other ticks.
Use EPA-registered insect repellent. Repellents with 20% or more of DEET can be applied to skin and clothing. Picaridin can also be applied to both skin and clothing and is nearly odorless, so may be a good choice for someone who is sensitive to strong smells. Permethrin can be applied to clothes, shoes and camping gear, but should not be applied to skin. The New York State Health Department advises that repellents should be stored out of the reach of children and children should not apply repellents to themselves.
Ticks are incredibly tiny, which makes finding them more challenging. Young deer ticks are about the size of a poppy seed and adult deer ticks are roughly the size of a sesame seed. Engorged ticks can weigh 200-300 times more than they did before they started feeding. An engorged tick is much easier to see, but has had more time to potentially transmit disease while feeding.
There are a variety of tick removal tools on the market, but the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health recommend using a pair of pointed tweezers. I used a tick key to remove the tick on my daughter and thought it worked great. When removing the tick, try to grasp the tick as close to its mouth parts (where it is attached to the skin) as possible. Pull firmly and steadily upward. Don’t squeeze or twist the tick as that may actually detach the body from the mouth parts. Clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and monitor the site for 30 days.
There are videos circulating on social media promoting the use of peppermint oil to get ticks to detach. This action will agitate the tick and cause it to salivate more, potentially releasing more bacteria before ultimately detaching. Other common, but potentially dangerous, tick removal methods include using alcohol, fire, or Vaseline. Similar to the peppermint oil, these methods cause the tick to regurgitate its gut contents, including any pathogens it might contain, which can infect the host, even if the tick had not yet been attached long enough for the usual biological transmission.
Lyme disease symptoms
Between 60 and 80% of people who have Lyme disease get a bulls-eye rash, called erythema migrans. The rash appears at or near the site of the tick bite, usually within three days to a month of the bite. The rash is a very good indicator of Lyme disease. If you get the rash or any other symptoms of Lyme which include joint pain, chills, fever, and fatigue, you should seek medical attention. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, stiff neck, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur. If Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection, patients usually recover fully.
For more information about ticks and Lyme disease, you can visit the New York State Department of Health website at www.health.ny.gov or contact the state or county department of health in your area.
Kate Creutzinger will spend the coming year at Miner Institute helping to oversee a collaborative research study that will look at stocking density and the utilization of a calving blind within a commercial dairy farm setting. The study is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is a collaborative project between Miner Institute, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and The Ohio State University, where Kate is working toward a Ph.D. with Dr. Katy Proudfoot.
Kate grew up in Mason, a suburb of Cincinnati, OH. She grew up with horses and participated in 4H. She earned an animal science degree from The Ohio State University and thought she wanted to go into pharmaceutical sales. She did undergraduate research in dairy behavior with Dr. Proudfoot and started to take large animal production classes and “fell in love with the process,” she said. In 2014, Kate started a masters program in beef cattle behavior at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. There she learned about hair cortisol as a measure of stress in beef cattle. “I loved it,” Kate said of the Canadian province known as the land of the living skies. The two largest agricultural outputs in Saskatchewan are canola and flax, which are yellow and purple, respectively. The fields were beautiful, she recalled.
After completing her masters, Kate stayed on in Saskatchewan for about six months working at the Prairie Swine Center, a non-profit swine research facility as a research assistant in the ethology department. “I like pigs, they are highly intelligent animals,” she said but wishes to move forward with her career in the dairy industry. That experience though, “has given me a broader range of knowledge to apply,” she said.
Ultimately, Kate said, she’d like to work in industry. She said that she loves research and working with animals, but there is so much good research out there being conducted and that information needs to be effectively distributed to farmers so that it can be utilized. She would like to work for a company like Cargill in their welfare department helping farmers to make the best management decisions for their farm to adapt to changing regulations.
Kate moved to Chazy to start her work here at Miner in early April. She says that she likes it here. “It’s beautiful. The facilities are great to work in.” She said that she is excited to get her project underway in June. Kate said that she is interested in looking at natural behaviors and how those behaviors can be modeled in a commercial setting. “The transition period is so critical,” she said. The animals “are compromised and susceptible to disease.”
In spring 2018, Kate will return to Ohio to finish up her classes, do the data analysis and write up the report for her project. In the meantime, while not working, Kate hopes to enjoy some hiking and Cross-country skiing in the North Country.
Our 12 summer interns have spent the last few weeks getting acquainted with Miner Institute and delving into the hard work that will consume the next 10 weeks of their lives. They also survived three days of our annual Farm Days for Fifth Graders event where we hosted 500 area fifth graders, teachers, and parents on a tour of the farm, educating them about agriculture, Miner Institute and Heart's Delight Farm. In honor of June being Dairy Month, we took an impromptu poll of our interns, asking what is your favorite dairy product? The result: 6 votes for cheese, 5 votes for ice cream, and 1 vote for fluid milk! We are so pleased to have such a great group who will undoubtedly be a benefit to the industry as they continue their careers.
Back row L to R: Lauren Offutt, Colorado State University student in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program; Sam Berube, SUNY Cobleskill student in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program; Ben Henrichs, Southern Illinois University student in the Summer Experience in Agricultural Research program; Breanna Watson, Mississippi State University student in the Summer Experience in Agricultural Research program; Christina Markunas, Michigan State University student in the Summer Experience in Farm Management program; Megan Miller, Clemson University student in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program; Gabbie Green, University of Tennessee student in the Summer Experience in Agricultural Research program; and Kyle Pimemtel, University of New Hampshire student in the Summer Experience in Equine Management.
Front row L to R: Karen Bonhomme, Plattsburgh State University student in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program; Courtney Hoff, Cornell University student in the Summer Experience in Agricultural Research program; Abby Maucieri, Virginia Tech student in the Summer Experience in Farm Management program; and Mayumi Marzolf, University of Missouri student in the Summer Experience in Farm Management program.
Miner Institute was so pleased to host the Strides for James charity event for the fourth year. 2017 marked the fifth year of the 5K/10K event which raises money for the James Wilson Memorial Scholarship at Clinton Community College. James Wilson was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2012. James was an avid runner with a generous spirit -- he was always willing to help others. The Wilson family certainly shares James' generosity and organize the annual event as a way to remember James and give back to the community that James loved so much. We are so pleased to play a small role in helping to do just that!
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.
Calf Supervisor Bethann Caston has been taking care of Miner Institute's dairy calves for more than 13 years. Until recently, the job involved carrying individual buckets of milk replacer or water to each calf. A new self-propelled milk taxi (actually it is a MilchTaxi, manufactured by Holm & Laue of Germany) has made feeding calves substantially more efficient. On a recent 10-degree January morning, Bethann demonstrated how the taxi works for delivering water to the calves; she even let me drive it! "It makes life easier, but it's a big investment," Bethann said.
The tank on the nearly $15,000 taxi holds 40 gallons. It has a heating element that keeps milk or water at a pre-programmed temperature. It has a mixing mechanism to mix the milk replacer, and has the ability to pasteurize, which we currently don't use, but could if needed. A hose attached to the tank with a wand and nozzle on the end delivers a pre-set amount of milk replacer or water with the push of a button. The pre-programmed settings ensure that each calf feeder delivers the same amount of milk to the proper age group of calves. For example, if the feeding protocol calls for calves age 1 day to 10 days to get five quarts of milk, you can program that into setting 1. Maybe calves age 11 to 20 days get six quarts; that could be programmed into setting 2.
The tank also has a wash cycle and can wash itself after feeding. Currently, Bethann makes one trip with the milk taxi and is able to feed all 38 calves presently in her care. Bethann says that the improved time management is one of the biggest benefits. "It frees up more time for de-horning calves, moving calves, and washing hutches," she said. She estimates that the taxi cuts the time it takes to feed out milk replacer by about 60% and is much easier on staff. "Basically, it's the best thing since sliced bread," she said.
The stage in the auditorium of the Joseph C. Burke Education and Research Center provided entertainment for the first time in decades on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The crowd of 140 spent the evening laughing with Merritt Billiter, Jason Borie, Andy Ducharme, and Tiana Marrero of Completely Stranded - a comedy group from Plattsburgh, NY. The event was booked as a way to raise money for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. The response exceeded our expectations raising $1,100 for the United Way. This will bring Miner Institute's total contribution for 2017 to just over $4,700 -- surpassing our 2016 contribution by about $1,500.
"The Completely Stranded comedy show, hosted by the Miner Institute, was a huge success on every level. Not only was it thoroughly entertaining, but it exemplified the generous and compassionate nature of people in this region. Miner Institute set a wonderful example by arranging something fun for people to enjoy, while creating an opportunity to support high priority health and human service programs that are so desperately needed. We are very proud to be partnering with the wonderful employees at Miner Institute and prouder still that they have entrusted us to make a positive impact across our community," John Bernardi, Executive Director/CEO of United Way of the Adirondack Region.
Learn more about the United Way of the Adirondack Region.
An editorial in the April 4, 1930 Plattsburgh Sentinel reporting on the death of William Miner the previous day stated: "When wealth came to him it was not something to be hoarded. He was only the instrument for its distribution whenever there was good to be done." The people of the North Country still benefit greatly from his generosity more than 85 years after his death. At the August 2016 premiere of Heart's Delight: The Story of William H. Miner at The Strand Theatre in Plattsburgh, Producer Paul Frederick asked a series of questions to the sold-out crowd of nearly 900. Who among you has ever worked at Heart's Delight Farm or Miner Institute? Who has attended or worked at Chazy Central Rural School? Who has worked at, was born at, or ever treated at CVPH? Most everyone in attendance had some link to William Miner. At Miner Institute, our mission is to carry on William Miner's vision -- that certainly involves research, education and agricultural demonstration, but also extending generosity to the broader community. At our December staff meeting, our staff put together two 20-inch bicycles and two motorized ride-on toys for kids. It was a great experience for our staff for a great cause. We worked with the United Way of the Adirondack Region to help us place the toys with families in need in time for Christmas. United Way partnered with Clinton County Department of Social Services to identify foster families to donate the toys to.
"It is nothing short of remarkable that Miner Institute's employees coordinated with the United Way to find deserving children and resources for those less fortunate children who are spending their first Christmas outside of their home, more so now in such trying economic and social times," wrote Christine Peters, Director of Legal and Social Services at the Clinton County Department of Social Services in a letter of thanks to Miner Institute.