Katelyn Jones, a student in animal sciences, recently learned the value of work ethic and commitment during an internship at The Maschhoffs in Carlyle, IL.
She served as a summer nutrition research intern for The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family-owned pork farming networks in the United States, and studied liquid starter diets in weanling pigs. She also assisted the other interns with their projects and helped with an umbilical hernia study, floor space study, and a sire-line trial.
Her favorite parts of interning with The Maschhoffs were the people she met and the connections she made.
“Not only was I able to work with five of my peers who taught me a lot and are still good friends of mine, but I was also able to meet and work with some of the most influential people in the swine industry today,” Jones said. “Each and every person at The Maschhoffs taught me valuable lessons about the swine industry, general research, work ethic, and life skills.”
After graduation, she will pursue a master’s degree in meat science and plans to find a career in the swine industry with pharmaceuticals or animal production. Someday she aspires to obtain a Ph.D. and teach at a university.
Playing with wolves, feeding pelicans, and applying chapstick to a tenrec were just a few of Kaleigh Albers’ duties as a part-time zookeeper at the Scovill Children’s Zoo.
“My desire to learn about animals makes my job really enjoyable,” Albers said. “Being exposed to zoo animals has allowed me to learn about different species, including their species-specific behaviors, food preferences and attitudes towards people.”
Albers, a University of Illinois animal sciences student, also creates tactile, olfactory, visual, food, environmental and social enrichment activities to elicit the animal’s natural behaviors.
“My goal is to come up with an enrichment activity, determine a goal and how they should respond, execute the activity, and rate the animal's response,” she said. “My favorite enrichment was socializing our blue and gold macaw with two green-winged macaws. They squawked back and forth for a long time.”
Albers enjoys creating diets based on specific guidelines for the animals.
“I have to be creative to figure out which fruits and vegetables they will eat. I find their picky appetites to be very amusing,” she said.
The learning experiences and the opportunity to work closely with exotic animals are the best parts of her job.
“I am able to work with animals that I would never be exposed to otherwise,” Albers said. “I also really enjoy seeking out the answers to visitors’ questions and expanding my knowledge.”
Aspiring veterinary student Hilary Levitin grew up in Chicago with a dog and lots of frogs. This was the closest she had come to working with animals before attending the University of Illinois.
“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian, and my high school anatomy and physiology class made me even more confident I was on the right track,” Levitin said. “I’m definitely the black sheep of the family – no one in my family shares my passion.”
She received her bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2010 and is now working at a vet clinic preparing to apply for veterinary school. In order to gain more experience working with animals, Levitin eagerly accepted a beef internship at Dixon Springs funded through a special “birthday gift” honoring George Cmarik, former U of I assistant professor in animal sciences.
Working at Dixon Springs was an eye-opening experience, Levitin said. A typical day during her internship began at 6 a.m. feeding and providing daily care for Dixon Springs’ 1,000-cow herd. From processing baby calves to monitoring health, Levitin quickly learned how to do all of the daily chores on her own. She also helped move cattle from pasture to pasture and learned how to take blood samples.
“I remember the first day I had to lift feed buckets,” Levitin said. “I knew right away I had to toughen up. Frank Ireland, my supervisor, and the farm workers were excellent teachers. They encouraged me, made me do the same chores they did, and showed me I could do more than I thought I could. They have hard jobs, and I respect them greatly.”
Ireland, research animal scientist at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, said Levitin was not only a hard worker, but also helped motivate his staff.
“Seeing the excitement of students like Hilary who want to pursue a future in animal agriculture stimulates our staff to do an even better job,” Ireland said. “I admire her diligence in finding ways to gain experience with animals that she had not worked with before.”
This was an extremely unique and genuinely kind gift, Levitin said.
“I’m a struggling student and simply can’t afford to take a non-paid internship,” she said. “I will always be appreciative that the Cmarik family found the means to make this internship happen. I hope I can give back someday to something I’m that passionate about.”
Former University of Illinois animal sciences student Dallas Duncan has completed four internships in the past six years, traveling from Mexico to speak with grain and livestock producers to Nebraska to work in a USDA microbiology lab. In her most recent internship with Trans Ova Genetics, Duncan traveled throughout the Midwest to assist with embryo flushes and transfers in cattle.
A graduate student in veterinary medicine, Duncan worked in three-week repeating rotations from May to August. She spent two weeks of each rotation traveling to ranches across the Midwest and the remaining time at the company’s clinic in Sioux Center, Iowa.
“I worked on a mobile embryology team with a veterinarian and an embryologist,” Duncan said. “We performed embryo flushes, embryo transfers and oocyte aspirations for in-vitro fertilization on ranches in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska.”
Embryo transfer is used to increase the number of calves that can be produced from a cow that exhibits desirable traits. During the internship, Duncan learned how to remove embryos from donor cows and transplant them into recipient cows.
“This internship exposed me to many practical skills used in the embryo flushing and transfer process, as well as how to maintain donor and recipient cows while promoting general herd health,” Duncan said. “I was also exposed to advanced reproductive technologies, such as cloning, semen sorting for sex determination and in-vitro fertilization.”
Throughout the internship, Duncan relied on the knowledge of reproductive physiology that she gained from several courses taken as a U of I undergraduate student in the Department of Animal Sciences. After completing her graduate degree, Duncan plans to work as a cattle veterinarian with a focus on cattle reproduction.
“It was very helpful to work alongside veterinarians who do exactly what I want to do,” Duncan said. “Every veterinarian that I worked with was really interested in my goals, and they did everything they could to teach me the skills that I needed to learn.”
When Blaine Melody started his education at the University of Illinois, he never dreamed he would one day study abroad in Greece. Let alone study abroad with dairy cows.
“The best decision I ever made was to choose animal sciences over biology,” Melody said. “And like many, I came in to the Department of Animal Sciences with a goal of becoming a small animal veterinarian. However, in my first animal sciences class I realized I had a passion for working with livestock and was good at it. I still love my dog and cat, but am more interested in a career as a large animal vet.”
In particular, Melody’s interest in dairy cattle led him to a unique study-abroad experience at the American Farm School (AFS) in Thessaloniki, Greece. He lived and worked at the school while helping manage a dairy of 120 milking Holsteins.
“My supervisor was the school’s veterinarian and the head of the Dairy Department,” he said. “I was able to play a part in both running the dairy and performing veterinary tasks.”
Melody learned about managing cattle nutrition and care, milking cows, working in a milk processing plant, and shipping milk. He also gained experience with hoof trimming, vaccine administration, and reproductive management.
“This internship was a great way to put the skills and knowledge I’ve gained through my college education into practice,” he said. “My supervisor was impressed with my level of knowledge in a variety of areas, especially nutrition and reproduction.”
Although AFS interns were asked to put in between 10 to 15 hours a week at the dairy farm, Melody found himself putting in double those hours because he enjoyed it so much.
“I wasn’t just another worker,” he said. “The staff sought out ways to provide me with new opportunities every day to help me gain a more meaningful experience as an AFS intern and student. What can I say? I’m the kid who works for free. But without these experiences, I wouldn’t be as prepared for my future.”
Read more about Melody's experience on his blog.
Several ACES students brave the summer heat each year to complete research-based internships at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC).
Adam Schroeder, a student in animal sciences, completed an internship at DSAC that focused on cattle production. His daily responsibilities included feeding and maintaining the health of 900 beef cattle.
“This internship allowed me to gain experience in the cow-calf industry, as well as become more accustomed to research,” Schroeder said. “Working daily with such a large number of cattle has made me much more comfortable handling them.”
Schroeder recommends the experience to any student interested in animal production or research.
“The internship confirmed my desire to study ruminant nutrition at the graduate level,” he said. “I see great value in the research that is being conducted and think that the hands-on experience I gained from working on a large cattle operation will be very helpful when looking for a career in the beef industry.”
He credits his courses in animal sciences, particularly ANSC 100 (introduction to animal science), ANSC 401 (beef production) and ANSC 420 (ruminant nutrition), for his ability to succeed in his internship.
“For those that don't have a beef background, beef production would be essential to gain more knowledge about cattle before you start an internship like this one,” he said. “For me, ruminant nutrition was perhaps the most helpful course as I was working on nutrition research. I even took my notes with me and looked back on them at times when I was preparing the abstract and getting ready to present my research findings at the Midwest Animal Science Meeting.”
Operated by U of I since 1934, DSAC is a large, outdoor experimental station located in Simpson, Ill. Researchers at the facility study topics in animal science, natural resources and environmental science, agronomy, and veterinary science with a focus on commercial agriculture. The internship program is funded by the Office of Research and was created in 2008 by Jozef Kokini, associate dean for research.
Just 20 miles outside her hometown of Maple Park, Sarah Carson landed the perfect Internship at the Kane County Farm Bureau in St. Charles.
Along with everyday office duties, Carson was able to expand her agricultural education major towards more involved projects like organizing the Agricultural Tours for Teachers, as well as a fundraiser to support the Farm Bureau’s scholarship and internship fund.
Through these opportunities, Carson was able to work closely with the Farm Bureau’s Agricultural Literacy Coordinator who was able to show Carson new teaching techniques.
Carson’s said her dedication to her studies and organizational skills help her to succeed. She takes these strengths outside of the classroom, being the vice president of membership for the Agricultural Education Club, as well as a member of the Illini Equestrians, and coach of the Western Show Team.
Through her experiences in school and work, Carson has matured as a person and feels she has grown immensely from high school.
“U of I has taught me how to take charge of situations and gain more responsibility,” she said.
Carson’s passion for agriculture and urge to teach others about it, make her a perfect fit for her major in Agricultural Education. She enjoys being in a small department at a large university, which allows her to know her professors and fellow students better.
For Frank Chambers, interning with Gibbs & Soell Public Relations in Hoffman Estates, IL was just what he needed to solidify his career goals.
Chambers, an agricultural communications graduate, wrote and edited press releases, updated and monitored web pages, researched media coverage for stories and created social media monitoring techniques during his internship. He performed many of these tasks for corporate clients, several in the agriculture sector.
He said his internship provided him with insight into agricultural public relations.
“It gave me an inside look into agricultural public relations and helped me gain a solid understanding of what work is like at a communications firm as opposed to an actual corporation or organization,” he said.
Chambers changed his major to agricultural communications when he was a sophomore because of the variety of career opportunities available.
Coursework, ACES Career Fairs and knowledgeable ACES alumni all contributed to helping him land the Gibbs & Soell internship.
"The College of ACES Career Service Office has been extremely helpful in my search for internships. The I-link job system and support from career service staff have played a critical role in my ability to secure great internships," he added.
Internships are becoming an increasingly important part of career preparation for college students looking for an edge in the job market. In addition, international study experiences are highly recommended for students. Recent University of Illinois graduate Matt Carton of Atkinson experienced both when he interned with BASF.
Carton, an agricultural and consumer economics student, served as a Value Chain Management Intern with BASF Plant Sciences GmbH in Limburgerhof, Germany.
He learned about the internship through his participation in the International Business Immersion Program (IBIP) during the summer following his sophomore year. The program consisted of a two-week long field trip in Europe and a tour of businesses, including BASF, in five different countries.
“They wanted an intern from our class to work for them during the next spring semester,” Carton said. “I applied and was fortunate enough to be selected.”
Carton’s internship lasted four months. He was a member of a team that developed business strategies for various genetically modified crops.
His main project was to develop a cost-of-production model for a specified crop in different growing regions. Carton also screened available market data needed to construct his business model and to coincide with his expected tasks. In addition, he learned the dynamics and potential of a particular market sector, aquaculture, and how to contribute to the development of a business model.
Much of his work centered on canola. Carton analyzed a potential market for EPA/DHA canola oil in aquaculture. He investigated various feed companies to see if there was a fit for BASF canola oil. He determined the total costs to produce and deliver canola in four regions in the United States and two in Canada. He also calculated potential revenue, profit and net present values for BASF.
Carton’s internship taught him how to develop, embellish, and grow business strategies. It provided him with a better understanding of the trait development process. Living and working in a different culture gave him more acceptance for different cultures and lifestyles.
Carton said the best part of his internship was experiencing a new culture in an atmosphere that was very different from home.
“Coming from an agricultural background, I was used to the farmer perspective on genetically modified organisms,” he said. “I found it interesting to be on the other side of the fence and be a part of the development team and trying to understand what it takes to make a GMO possible.”
Perhaps the most challenging part of Carton’s internship proved to be the best part.
A research internship at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Southern Illinois opened Margaret Jodlowski’s mind to different lifestyles and people.
Not only was she able to focus on her self-directed and designed research project, but she also learned more about herself and other people than she ever imagined.
Jodlowski, a student in agricultural and consumer economics, said she enjoys being able to integrate into the community and do something that could really make a difference.
“Talking to people in the area was a rewarding part of my experience,” she said. “It was a crucial part of my research, which I enjoy doing, but it also gave me a chance to open my mind and experience a life very different than my own.”
The work that she and the other interns completed each day was crucial to the success of the center. Her personal project was analyzing the structures and subsidies necessary to make southern Illinois a potential producer of bioenergy crops that could replace fossil fuels and corn-based ethanol.
Her drive, work ethic, and far-reaching goals have helped her to be successful in not only her internship, but also her classes and extracurricular activities. She serves as president of the history honors society, Phi Alpha Theta, and is co-president of the James Scholar Media Team.