A Senior's Farewell to the University of Minnesota

Completing the Shires, Shorthorns, and Sheep: Exploring Livestock Production Systems in England marked the end of my undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota. Leaving for England two short days after my college graduation seemed to be a little daunting, but there's no doubt in my mind that it was worth it and a GREAT way to end my collegiate career!

The highlights of my trip to England included visiting farms, such as Wimpole and Native Beef, to see how they are working to preserve the genetics of England's heritage breeds, seeing the racing industry in Newmarket, and experiencing several markets in London. Growing up in production agriculture has given me personal experiences with raising beef, sheep and crops, such as corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. I enjoyed observing the similarities and differences between agriculture in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Heritage breed preservation seemed to be important to several of the farms we visited, and I didn't realize that so many breeds were close to becoming extinct. Personally, my favorite heritage breed was the Bagot goat. Although I took Tony's Intro to Animal Science Class, we saw breeds that I had never heard of before. I think it is important for farms in England to be working with the heritage breeds since they carry so much history in the development of agriculture in England.

The Bagot Goat Kid at Wimpole Farms

Devon Cattle Enjoying the Weather at Native Beef

I never knew that a single town could literally be built around horses. Newmarket was something I had never experienced before. I enjoyed how quint the town was, but as we were driving along there were stable yards between the houses. The whole town was connected to Warrens Hill and the racetrack through little paths and trails that ran right through the center of town and through the trees. This allowed the riders and trainers to have access anywhere they needed their horses to go without having to load them into the horse box. I was also intrigued by how much the Queen loves her horses. Plus, the Royal Box, where the Queen watches her horses race, was beautiful! I don't have a lot of knowledge about horses or horse racing, but I sure did enjoy our two days in Newmarket!

A Racehorse in Training Running Up the Grass Track at Warrens Hill in Newmarket, England

Horses Thundering Down the Track at the Rowley Mile in Newmarket, England

 Painting of the Queen with Her Horse Hanging at the Jockey Club in Newmarket, England

Royal Box at the Rowley Mile in Newmarket, England

The favorite cultural activities we did was visiting the historic markets of London. Since I really enjoy meat, the Smithfield Market was my favorite because I could relate to it so much. Seeing all the cuts laying in the display cases brought back memories to last summer when the Meats Knowledge Bowl Team was practicing at Costco in College Station, Texas the day of the meats judging competition. On the other side of the corridor, through the glass windows and doors there were whole carcasses hanging from the rails. Again, I thought of the times when I saw carcasses like that in the cooler at the U of M Meat Lab during Livestock and Carcass Evaluation, where my fellow TAs and I were responsible for measuring the carcass. Borough Market showed how many different ethnic groups live in London-- the options for food was endless and the free cheese samples were just an added bonus. I firmly believe that farmer's markets, such as Borough Market, are essential for connecting producers and consumers. Going to the Portobello Market made me feel like we were at the Minnesota State Fair all over again. Looking down the hill and only being able to see people crowded on the street proved to be troublesome when trying to shop at all the different stores. Even though we had to make our way through the crowds of people I did enjoy seeing all the jewelry, souvenir apparel, and trinkets that the stores were selling.

Carcasses Hanging in the Cooler at Smithfield Market

Meat Counter at Smithfield Market

Entrance into Borough Market

The Street of the Portobello Market

Throughout my educational career I have always been told that you do the most learning outside of the classroom. Participating on the Livestock Judging Team, Meats Knowledge Bowl Team, being a Delta Theta Sigma Little Sister, and being involved in several clubs on campus proved that to me. However, being invited onto people's farms in another country gave my learning a whole new meaning. Producers opening up about the hardships they have faced, their plans for expansion, and truly showing our group what it's like to be producing food in England is something I will never forget. I would like to thank Beth and Krishona for being the most amazing program leaders ever, along with all the other professors that have committed their time to making me be as successful as I can in my future career. With that, I would like to say my farewell to the University of Minnesota, but I am proud to say I am now a University of Minnesota Gopher Alumni! 


Picture Credit: Beth Ventura and myself


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