UD’s Williams spends summer as intern on Herr Angus Farm

August 20, 2013 under CANR News

Kathryn Williams spends summer interning at Herr'sAs an animal and food science major, University of Delaware senior Kathryn Williams was looking for a summer internship that incorporated both of those elements. Luckily for Williams, her adviser, Lesa Griffiths, knew just the place.

Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, has a long history with the Herr company – based in nearby Nottingham, Pa., and a leader in the snack food industry — and she suggested that Williams apply for a summer internship.

Williams took the advice and met with Dennis Byrne, manager of the Herr Angus Farm and a UD alumnus who received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Distinguished Alumni Award, and he offered her an internship on the spot.

Williams has now been working at the cattle farm since May 28, and said she is enjoying the hands-on experience the internship offers.

“I’m basically a farm hand — even though I’m technically the intern,” said Williams. “The first day I was thrown right in with everything. They were running cows through the shoot, doing a lot of medical checks and giving a lot of timed breeding shots. There was no, ‘Oh, you’re the intern, you can just sit and watch us.’ They put me right to work and it’s been great. I’m learning so much.”

Williams said that she usually arrives at the Herr farm around 8 a.m. and stays until 4 p.m. or later. Her daily routine consists of riding around the fields with her boss to check on the cows and make sure that they are well and, if not, bring them in for a medical check. She helps out with shots and other basic medical procedures, as well as lending a hand for any miscellaneous jobs that need to be performed — like fixing fences or mowing lawns.

One of her favorite parts of the internship has been learning to drive the tractors and getting to climb to the top of the silo.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but there’s an enclosed ladder and it was worth it. I got to the top and got my camera out and was taking pictures,” said Williams.

Williams admitted that when she first took the internship, she did so in order to broaden her horizons, but now after working with beef cows for the summer, she can see herself doing it as a career. “Now that I’ve gotten into it, I’ve really enjoyed working with beef cows. It’s a lot different than working with dairy cows and I’ve actually come to enjoy it a lot more.”

And of course, interning at the Herr farm does have the added bonus of being close to their famous and flavorful potato chips, especially the salt and vinegar or the kettle cooked chips, which are Williams’ favorites.

Multi-tasking

Williams is preparing for a busy senior year, as she performs her duties in the Sigma Alpha sorority and serves as president of the Animal Science Club. But multi-tasking is nothing knew to Williams.

In addition to interning on the farm this summer, Williams also volunteers at Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services (PAWS) for People with her dog, Riley.

The organization visits nursing homes, hospitals and children’s hospitals and volunteers sit and talk with people one-on-one. Williams has been volunteering by visiting an adult day center, with Riley in tow.

“I’ve been visiting the one place for so long, I’ve developed relationships with each person, so I’m able to just sit and chat with them and they’ll sit there and pet Riley the whole time we’re talking, and it’s just really nice,” said Williams. “A lot of the time you get feedback from them, and it’s just so wonderful to see how much they enjoy it.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

Video by Adam Thomas and Danielle Quigley

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University and Herr’s renew commitment

February 22, 2013 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and Herr’s have renewed their commitment, assuring that a longstanding and fruitful relationship will remain strong into the future.

The agreement will see Herr’s products return to the UD campus beginning this spring and includes opportunities for tours of the Herr’s plant and cattle farm for students and faculty in support of the education mission of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

Herr's and UD continue their relationshipAlso, the agreement provides for the consideration of qualified CANR students to participate in formal internships at Herr’s; continued support for other UD educational activities, including workshops on topics such as beef cattle quality assurance; participation of Herr’s representatives at UD career fairs, and consideration of qualified UD students for employment opportunities.

Herr’s has been extremely helpful to UD over the years, especially when it comes to CANR, college officials said.

According to Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Herr’s was instrumental in helping equip UD with an Angus cattle herd. In particular, she cited the efforts of Dennis Byrne, manager of Herr Angus Farm and a 1977 UD graduate who was recently named an Ag Distinguished Alumni.

“I came to UD in the late 1980s, and I was tasked with oversight of the beef cattle herd,” said Griffiths. She explained that at the time, UD’s herd consisted of a half-dozen crossbred animals that were not suitable to tell students were representative of beef cattle.

Griffiths looked at various farms, planning to purchase cattle in order to start the new program, and met Byrne. “Through Dennis, Herr’s was very instrumental in providing us with some of our initial breeding stock,” said Griffiths. “So, essentially, the Angus cattle herd at UD was started with the assistance of Dennis Byrne and Herr’s.”

Byrne said he has had great experiences working with CANR and noted that when he returned to campus to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, he was excited to see both the research being done at CANR and the job opportunities afforded to those who graduate from the college.

“The opportunities that [CANR] is creating for people in that field is really impressive,” Byrne said. “In my opinion, they’re going to continue to be on the cutting edge in the agriculture world.”

In addition to the cattle herd, Herr’s has also helped CANR in other ways. The company, for instance, has a working cattle operation with 1,000 head of Angus that includes a feedlot, something that Griffiths stressed is very rare in the eastern part of the United States.

“Herr’s has a feedlot that is utilizing byproduct feeds from the manufacturing plant. They have very strict environmental standards to follow because they are dealing with not only the waste from the snack food manufacturing but also waste from the cattle operation,” said Griffiths. “So it’s a great place for students to go to look at all of the different things that are in place to deal with the environment and sustainability.”

Daryl Thomas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Herr’s, explained that the students have also learned about how Herr’s recycles its wastewater, about its irrigation program, how the company utilizes recycled packaging and about its state of the art fuel saving program — the Herr’s plant is equipped with a steam recovery system.

Nutrition and food science classes have also toured the Herr’s plant, and students have participated in workshops. One such workshop, Griffiths pointed out, was a beef quality assurance workshop at which Byrne showed students how to handle beef cattle, using a load of cattle Herr’s had just brought in from Virginia as an example of how to give vaccines and to see what happens in an intake situation with a large number of livestock arriving at a new farm.

But it isn’t just CANR that benefits from the relationship with Herr’s. Thomas explained that he has also been able to give presentations to many business and marketing students, as well.

“I have been a guest lecturer, and I was trying to calculate how long I have lectured for over the years — if it was 100 hours, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration,” said Thomas.

Thomas said that Herr’s is always receptive to doing events with UD, whether it be a company representative speaking at a class, UD students using Herr’s as part of their class projects, or CANR students from touring the Herr’s farm to learn about sustainability practices.

“I would just say that we’ve been really good neighbors,” said Thomas. “We obviously have done business with UD in terms of selling our products on campus and so many of our employees reside in Delaware. We’ve had members of our management team get their master of business administration (MBA) degrees from UD, and we have also provided internships, so it’s the kind of an agreement in which the door is open and the receptivity is very warm.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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