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Serving: KS
Students participating in the feedlot boot camp Kansas State University
GAINING EXPERIENCE: Students participating in the feedlot boot camp experience hear words of wisdom from Rodney Beranek (far left), veterinarian Doug Hilbig (center) and veterinarian Chris Cox (far right). The photo was taken during the students’ visit to Tiffany Cattle Co. near Herington.

Feedlot Boot Camp helps students prepare for careers

K-State Department of Animal Science and Industry program trains students for jobs.

A growing Kansas cattle feeding industry, which currently ranks third in the nation with 2.33 million head on feed, means a growing need for trained professionals in cattle handling, nutrition and feedlot management.

Kansas State University’s Animal Sciences and Industry has responded with a new program called the “Kansas State University Undergraduate Feedlot Boot Camp and Teaching Program,” which gives students a chance to develop their knowledge, skills and professional relationships in feedlot management.

Twenty students enrolled in the spring 2019 course returned early from winter break in order to attend the boot camp, hosted Jan. 14-17 in and around Garden City. Participating feedlots included Reeve Cattle Co. Inc., Garden City; Finney County Feedyard, Garden City; and Poky Feeders, Scott City.

While on-site, students gained insight to receiving and processing cattle, finding and treating sick cattle, cattle handling and comfort, facility design and evaluation, feed mill operations and software, commodity storage and handling, bunk reading, feed calling, and maintenance, as well as other factors contributing to the success of a cattle feeding operation.

ASI junior Shane Newton says he enjoyed seeing each operations’ various business models with the same end goal of being the most efficient at what they do. Newton is impressed with the course, adding, “This program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe I will continue to benefit from.”

In addition to touring these operations and observing practices on the feedyard, students participated in classroom-type learning each day. Topics discussed during the classwork portion included an industry overview, learning how a feedlot operates, cattle health challenges and programs, feeding and nutrition, feedlot maintenance, and the business of cattle feeding.

Additional activities provided by this unique program included a group dinner with a program about antibiotic stewardship and responsibility hosted by Zoetis; and a dinner and networking reception hosted by Rabo AgriFinance. Industry sponsors are excited about helping the feedlot industry and creating career opportunities. Course instructors add that sponsors are engaged with the students and never blinked when asked to consider giving their time or money to the program.

 “I learned how truly innovative and forward thinking all these operations were and how important that is to the cattle industry,” explains Kyndall Norris, ASI junior. She also enjoyed seeing the variations of practices and set-ups of the operations, and the class far surpassed her expectations.

Madeline Neufeld, ASI junior, adds, “The trip was one of the best learning experiences that I have had at K-State.” She also says that the course allows her to apply what she had already learned in other courses to real-world situations. 

This program is not limited to the four-day boot camp experience. In April 2019, attendees had a chance to gain hands-on cattle processing experience at Tiffany Cattle Co. in Herington. Students that complete both sessions of the course, as well as complete a paid feedlot management internship during the summer of 2019 with a participating feedlot, will have the opportunity to earn a $2,500 scholarship, applied to the fall 2019 semester.

The program was made possible through sponsorships by Midwest PMS, Zoetis, Rabo AgriFinance, Phibro Animal Health, several Kansas feedlot operations, and K-State’s ASI department. Pete Anderson, Midwest PMS, with the assistance of Karol Fike and Larry Corah, developed this program with the intent to help meet the critical need for trained professionals in the feedlot industry.

Anderson played a tremendous role in putting this class together but credits K-State ASI for seeing the merit to this program and fully supporting it. He says that students were not getting enough exposure to career and business opportunities in the feedlot industry, and notes that he hears repeatedly of companies needing help finding more employees, both hourly and for management positions.

“I work all day, every day, in feedlots all over the country, and especially in Kansas,” he says, adding that he is excited about the future of the course, as well as the future of the cattle feeding industry. “Students got up early, worked all day, stayed engaged and were so enthused. At the end, all they wanted was more.”

Opportunities abound for K-State ASI students thanks to industry sponsors, host feedlots and industry professionals.

Fike, K-State ASI teaching associate professor and course academic advisor, said a goal of the course is to increase awareness, knowledge, understanding and perspective of the variety of opportunities that exist within the feedlot industry.

Corah, K-State ASI professor emeritus, also provides guidance for the class. Corah is excited about the potential of the class, saying, “It’s not always easy to expose students to the feedlot industry, and this was a great opportunity to expose them.”

Overall, though only 20 students could be accepted, 37 applied for this unique program. This suggests making “boot camp” an annual event, says Corah. Anderson agrees, adding that the course will continue, one way or another. Seventy-five percent of the students from this class have secured or are actively seeking jobs and internships in the feedlot industry. Newton even adds that this class is the sole reason for his interest in pursuing an internship in the feedlot industry.

Source: Kansas State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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