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.
Miner Institute takes pride in the hands-on and applied knowledge that is built into all of our education programs. The Summer Experience in Equine Management Program is one of them. It is a 13-week paid internship for college undergraduates. The program will mark its 30th anniversary in 2017. The emphasis of the program is on management of a commercial equine facility, and also improving horse handling and training skills. Students learn ground training techniques such as halter breaking, lungeing, longlining, and ground driving. The program is a critical piece of the equine program as well – students help train our young stock, and alumni from the program are selected to return as year-long interns after completing their undergraduate coursework.
Shannon Heibeck was studying agriculture science at Truman State University in Missouri when she came to Miner in 2013 as a Summer Experience in Equine Management student. After earning her undergraduate degree in agriculture science, with an animal science emphasis and an equine science minor, she returned as the year-long equine intern in September 2015. Her experience at Miner emphasized her desire to have a career in the equine industry, she said. “I really enjoy taking care of horses on a daily basis and I want to continue that,” Shannon said. “I am so happy waking up every day and coming to work.” In late September, Shannon wrapped up her position at Miner and re-united with her fiancée in Missouri before moving together to Kentucky. She hopes to someday get a job working in equine rehab and sports medicine.
Samantha Dobbins was a student at Averett University in Virginia when she came to Miner in 2014 to participate in the Summer Experience in Equine Management program. She arrived to begin her post as the year-long equine intern in late August. Samantha is from Chesapeake Beach, MD. She has an undergraduate degree in equestrian studies and equine business management. She is also certified through an organization that uses equine therapy to help people with mental health issues.
The Summer Experience in Equine Management program allows students an opportunity to become proficient in stallion handling, semen collection and processing, as well as broodmare management. Students interested in careers in stable or breeding management, agricultural extension, and veterinary medicine have found the program to be particularly useful. Alumni from the program have gone on to careers in academia, equine reproduction laboratories, equine farm management, ultrasound, and nutrition.
Samantha is hoping to learn as much as possible while she is here. “I have lots of general knowledge. This is my opportunity to apply it,” she said of the coming year. Samantha got involved with horses when her three aunts purchased riding lessons for her seventh birthday. Eventually, Samantha hopes to find a job in equine reproduction.
Summer Experience in Equine Management program alumni get experience working with stallions, broodmares, and young stock; they learn various training techniques; as well as feed management and barn management. In addition, most – if not all alumni – walk away with a favorite Miner Morgan. For Shannon, that is 6-year-old HD Gabriels, or Gabby. Gabby was Shannon’s project horse during her summer internship. Each student chooses a project horse to evaluate, train, and market for sale during their summer internship. Samantha’s favorite Miner Morgan is 2-year-old HD Bliss, who was born during her summer internship. “There’s just something special about her,” Samantha said of Bliss.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Summer Experience in Equine Management should visit www.whminer.org.
Miner Institute has had a collaborative relationship with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh since the early 1970s. The relationship mostly revolves around the Applied Environmental Science Program, which is still going strong more than 40 years since its inception. Additionally, Miner Institute supported SUNY Plattsburgh graduate students in in-vitro cell biology and environmental science through the late 1980s. In 1984, the relationship with the University of Vermont was started with the first Miner-supported graduate student. That student, Katie Ballard, is now the Director of Research at Miner Institute. The goal of the graduate program is to “train the next professionals in agriculture through the support of their development and education,” Katie said. The program has been very active over the past 30 years, with alumni obtaining degrees through the departments of Animal Sciences, Extension Education, Plant and Soil Sciences and Food Systems. The graduate program here is unique in that students have great networking opportunities through Miner Institute’s vast network of industry connections. Likewise, the program is a great benefit to the research program at Miner Institute. “Having graduate students is critical in providing technical support for our research activities and mentoring undergraduate students in our fall, spring and summer semester educational programs,” Katie said. In 2016, the program has added another partner by working with Clarkson University.
Wyatt grew up on a 150-cow Jersey farm about 50 miles west of the Twin Cities in Hamburg, MN. He has an animal science degree from the University of Minnesota and is just beginning a master’s program at the University of Vermont through a graduate assistantship at Miner Institute. He will be studying dairy nutrition, and more specifically, fiber digestibility. Rick Grant and Kurt Cotanch will be advising Wyatt. Wyatt says that he finds digestible fiber “intriguing.” Cows are so complex, Wyatt said, adding that he’s interested in finding out what they need to perform best. Ultimately, he hopes to work in nutrition consulting, and possibly have some involvement on his family’s farm.
Dani Harris grew up in Old Chatham, NY about 25 miles south of Albany. She studied animal science at Cornell University, where she became interested in dairy cows. Growing up, Dani showed beef cows and rode horses, but didn’t have any involvement with dairy cows. In college, she shadowed a large-animal veterinarian, where she became interested in working with dairy cows. She later worked as a lab technician and participated in transition cow research. Dani will be working toward a Master’s degree at the University of Vermont. Dani will be working under the advisement of Heather Dann analyzing milk data. She is interested in the potential of milk profiles to detect estrus or pregnancy outcomes. Ultimately, Dani says she would like to work with dairy farmers, possibly as a consultant, nutritionist or manager.
Casey grew up in Remsen, NY, near Utica. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science and chemistry as a double major at Plattsburgh State University. Casey is working toward a master’s degree in environmental engineering and water resources from Clarkson University. Casey is the first student to do a graduate assistantship with Clarkson. “I think it will be a struggle to prove to some of the folks at Clarkson that what we’re doing is worth it,” Casey said. He seems up to the challenge, though. He will be focusing his research on nutrient drainage off tiled fields. His advisor is Clarkson Professor Stefan Grimberg, but he will also be working closely with Eric Young on tile drain research at Miner. Casey hopes to be able to continue to find time for hiking, biking, skiing and other outdoor recreation. Before coming to Miner in late August, Casey biked from Maine to Oregon with a friend.
Keegan grew up in Cobleskill, NY. After graduating from high school in 2009, he spent a year in Finland as an exchange student and used it as an opportunity to experience Finnish culture before starting college at Plattsburgh State University. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Plattsburgh State. Keegan is in the second year of his master’s program at the University of Vermont in the plant and soil science department. His project is looking at erosion and nutrient runoff on four research plots – two have been planted with cover crops and two have not. Cover crops, Keegan says, “are like an anchor – they hold the soil; and like a fridge, keeping nutrients fresh.” Eric Young is Keegan’s project advisor. He hopes to complete his master’s in October 2017 and then work with farmers through extension and possibly start up his own small farm.
Mac grew up west of Baltimore, MD. He has an animal science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He became passionate about dairy cows while completing an internship at his college’s dairy. He then did an undergraduate honors thesis with a dairy nutrition professor who suggested that Mac should go to graduate school. Miner Institute’s program was suggested to him by a former boss. Mac is in his fourth year of a Ph.D. program at the University of Vermont. Mac’s research has been focused on stocking density and the interaction with the feeding environment of dairy cows. He is trying to identify strategies that can help to mitigate stress on dairy cows and improve performance. The graduate assistantship program at Miner is “a very different graduate program,” Mac said, adding that it is very experience-focused. “You’re not teaching anatomy two times a week; you’re running projects. It sets Miner apart.” Graduate students are still involved in mentoring summer experience interns and Advanced Dairy Management students, but the role is different than what most graduate students experience as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA). Mac hopes to wrap up his program in summer 2017. He isn’t entirely sure what he will do next, but is considering welfare and behavior consulting as a possibility.
Miner Institute was thrilled to participate in the 7th Annual Rotary Club of Plattsburgh Bed Race on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016! The event takes place on City Hall Place as part of the Battle of Plattsburgh events. Miner Institute's team, Miner Threat, included Eric Young, Stephen Kramer, Keegan Griffith, Kyohei Ishida, and Emma Duffy. Team alternates were Heather Dann and Rachel Dutil. The team won two of three races and ended in the top 8 of 32 teams. A good time was had, for a great cause, and we will be back and even more ready in 2017!
An unexpected donation from the late Stephen Flanagan has provided $1.3 million to support Miner Institute’s education programs. The donation established a scholarship fund that will support two students enrolled in Miner Institute education programs each year. The scholarships will be named after Mr. Flanagan and his parents, Stephen S. Flanagan and Frances B. Flanagan.
William Miner stated in 1915 that “no other occupation is so vitally important to the human race nor requires such a wide range of practical and technical knowledge as farming.” It seems that Mr. Flanagan agreed as his generous contribution to Miner Institute will help to educate generations of agriculture students. Graduates of Miner Institute’s programs have gone on to jobs in industry, academia, farm management positions, as well as graduate school and veterinary school.
Stephen Flanagan was a lifelong farmer who owned and operated Sunshine Dairy Farm until 1972 and thereafter continued to raise beef cattle on his Rugar Street Farm in Plattsburgh. He was also influential in the creation of the Antique Farm and Home Museum at the Clinton County Fairgrounds. Mr. Flanagan wanted to ensure that deserving young people would have an opportunity to study the science of food production and enjoy farming as much as he had. Mr. Flanagan passed away in November 2014 at the age of 86.
Emma Duffy is the year-long dairy intern and the first recipient of the Flanagan scholarship. Emma is from just outside of Boston, MA and a graduate of the University of Vermont, having studied animal science there. She is enjoying the opportunity to learn and work at Miner Institute. She started her year-long post in January 2016.
Emma did not grow up on a farm, but has always been interested in horses. While at UVM, she decided to participate in the university’s student-run dairy herd, known as the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM) program. She thought it would look good on her resume when she applied for vet school. “CREAM helped open my eyes to other opportunities,” Emma said. After graduating from UVM, Emma worked on a Vermont dairy farm for two years. She learned about the position at Miner Institute through some friends who had participated in the Advanced Dairy Management program at Miner Institute. Her friends encouraged her to apply.
Emma says that she likes her role here. She works closely with Anna Pape, Miner Institute’s herdsperson. Emma said she enjoys working with the vet on herd health checks and breeding management. She likes being able to witness the progress the animals make and following up on veterinarian recommendations for animal health. She says that she really enjoys the day-to-day animal care aspects of dairy farm management.
Emma said that she hasn’t totally ruled out vet school, but she is “more open to other avenues.” Her time at Miner Institute has helped her to realize that she can have a lot of impact on the industry without being a dairy vet, she said.