Students explore passions and career options

Close encounters of the bovine kind

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Senior animal science major Rachel Botta spent her summer interning in the small town of Clermont, Ga. at Mountain Fresh Creamery and Glo-Crest Farms.

“I started working at the Berry Dairy my freshman year and fell in love with it and just wanted to explore what a ‘real’ dairy is like,” Botta said. “It’s a family farm, and they got everything done themselves. They had about six employees, including the family and me.”

At Mountain Fresh and Glo-Crest, a small family farm owned by the Glover family, Botta received valuable and literal hands-on experience, milking the near-200 cows on the weekends and periodically during the week. She also fed the cows and their calves every morning, waking up at 7 a.m. to get the job done.

“I really got to know the cows on a close basis,” she said.

Botta also did other farmhand chores such as changing hay and cleaning out stalls.

“There was always something to do,” Botta said. “Never a dull moment.”

Mountain Fresh Creamery offers tours of their supplier, Glo-Crest Dairy, and Botta frequently led tours of both the farm and the creamery. At the farm, customers could observe the milking process and daily farm life firsthand. The creamery housed a full pasteurization and bottling facility. Customers watched the entire process — from cooling and pasteurizing the milk to bottling and cooling it and received freshly-made ice cream at the end of the tour.

Botta also took a week off from her internship to represent the Berry dairy at the Dairy Farmers of America conference in Texas. She met with producers from the southeast and southwest regions and discussed the current state of the industry.

Botta hopes to make a career for herself in the dairy farming community.

 Searching for cell awareness in oxalate crystals

Senior environmental science major Michael Dunn worked alongside mathematics and associate professor of biology Cathy Borer  this summer and presented research and at the Botany 2016 conference in Savannah, Ga.

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Borer and two other students researched oxygen levels in soil and its effects on plant health last year. Those students didn’t return to Berry, so Borer called on Dunn and senior Elle Carver to help finish the research during the summer and to present at the conference.

“I was really lucky to get to come back to campus for a few months and learn about the research and how to present it,” Dunn said. “The samples we got were from an area with a lot of salt and calcium in the soil. Some plants sequestered this excess calcium into crystals. We found this method that worked to freeze-dry and preserve samples so we were able to look at them under a microscope. It opens new window to look at this process and a new way to observe these kinds of crystals.”

Dunn has worked with Borer for the last two years doing research for another project, but the dogwood trees they were working with died. This year, Dunn is doing his own research project that uses some of Borer’s research about these crystals.

“I’m looking at invasive species that are taking over dying trees and seeing if they serve the same physiological function as a calcium pump.”


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