Farm units educate

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

To some, the farm units on the SDSU campus go pretty much unnoticed on a day to day basis, but to others, they are a vital part of education, research and outreach to the community, said Don Boggs, head of animal and range sciences.

The farm units, the agriculture buildings that run along northern Medary Avenue, include individual units for sheep, beef breeding, swine, nutrition, horses, and cows and calves, Boggs said.

Since SDSU is a land grant university, its three missions are to teach, to research and to extend into the community, and most of the farm units are used in all three of those aspects.

“All of them provide opportunities for our students in the teaching aspect, but also let us find out new information for the citizens of South Dakota, whether it’s livestock producers on raising the animals or for consumers on food safety and higher quality of products,” he said.

Boggs said part of educating the students includes giving them hands on experience with part time jobs.

“We have student employees at all of our units. At some of the units, some of the students are involved in research projects. There’s an opportunity for part time employment in the area they want their career to be. It’s similar to an internship. They have a chance to learn more and different practices.”

Kristin Weber, student manager of the horse unit, said the units are important to students. “That’s where you learn your experience.”

The horse unit currently employs seven undergraduate students to help out with chores and activities at the facility. Weber, who has been working there for two years, helps coordinate the activities on a day to day basis.

Weber said she has been to many of the units with her classes for tours and lessons, but she also works with other students and community members.

“We tour some of the livestock units, but we have a couple of classes that come out to the unit. Our unit is really more hands on. We work closely with the Horse Club and the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association,” she said.

The horse unit also gives trolley rides and helps teach Park and Rec classes in the summer.

Most of the student employees are animal and range sciences majors, but the units are sometimes utilized by others, like economic, plant science and veterinary science majors.

Besides educating, the farm units also conduct important research to help out local farmers, Boggs said.

“Our mission is to serve the livestock producers of South Dakota, so our research is going to be more targeted to what their needs are. It is very applicable to farmers in other states, but our first mission is to serve the farmers of South Dakota.”

The units act as a third party to evaluate new technology that becomes available through private industry. Research explores affordability, safety for the consumers and the environment, and compatibility with certain production settings.

“We have a lot of small farmers that can’t afford a consultant and they depend of us to test that sort of thing because they can’t put part of their operation at risk. They provide a lot of goodwill between the university and the community,” he said.