Ryo Suzuki grew up in the Aichi Prefecture, the third largest out of 47 in Japan. Ryo is the middle child of three – he has an older brother and a younger sister. His dad was a government officer. As a child, Ryo was not interested in agriculture; he really liked math. When he entered junior high, horseracing became popular and Ryo became interested in horses. At that time, he thought he might want to pursue becoming a veterinarian. In high school, he decided to study agriculture.
Ryo attended Hokkaido University and studied agriculture, entering animal production in his second year and animal nutrition by his fourth year there. He earned a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Hokkaido University. He has been employed by Zen-Noh National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations for seven years.
Miner Institute has had a research collaboration with the Japanese cooperative for more than 20 years. Dr. Charlie Sniffen initiated the collaborative relationship in the 1990s. Miner hosts Zen-Noh scientists/nutritionists in residence for 1-2 years and conducts mutually beneficial research projects. Miner Institute’s location in Chazy, which has similar growing conditions to Japan’s primary agricultural region, as well as our focus on dairy nutrition and management make Miner a great place to conduct dairy research and develop training materials for Zen-Noh technical staff. Many of the educational materials developed by Miner Institute for Zen-Noh over the years have dually supported our student educational programs as well. The relationship with Zen-Noh has broadened Miner Institute’s impact on the dairy industry globally.
Zen-Noh directly employs about 1000 people, Ryo said. The animal production department is one of the biggest within the company with around 100 employees, he said. Ryo worked in dairy and beef cattle nutrition for Zen-Noh for three years and then spent three years at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo before coming to Chazy for the two-year residence at Miner Institute beginning in early 2014. Zen-Noh employees are selected to come to Miner based on their interest in dairy and nutrition and their ability to speak English.
Ryo says that he has adjusted well to life at Miner and feels relaxed here. “All of Miner is kind and accepting,” Ryo said, adding that the cows are the same as in Japan, which made for an easy adjustment! Ryo had already met some key members of the research staff prior to his arrival which made the transition easier as well. He said that he misses Japanese food, especially his favorite gyudoa – beef with rice – but has become fond of Philly Cheesesteaks and other American food. Having some reminders of home can be helpful and Kinue Bailey, or “K” as she likes to be called, grew up in Japan but has lived in Chazy, just a few miles from Miner Institute, for about 40 years. Since soon after the collaboration with Zen-Noh started, K has offered the visiting Japanese researchers a sense of home with friendship and regular meals at her home.