Graduate school is a very interesting thing. People began their graduate program with many preconceived notions, goals of what they hope they will get out of their program, and it's one of those things no matter how much you plan or prepare, the end result is never what you imagine. As I begin year 2 of this adventure, to say I have learned a lot is an understatement. Sure, I have expanded my knowledge through course work, reading journal articles, and conducting research but the greatest knowledge I have gain is about life. Yes, you heard me right. Life. Not about cattle reproduction, which is what I thought it would be if you had asked me a year ago. Much of this learning has come about by trials and obstacles that stand in your path along the way. I have made so many connections with industry people while overcoming those obstacles and have learned many lessons that will no doubt be useful as I finish up my masters degree and venture out into the cattle industry or workplace.
If you asked all the fellow graduate students in my office what their favorite or most valuable part of graduate school was, you would get many different responses. Probably a different response for every person depending on what their end goals were and where their interest lies. The most valuable things I have learned thus far and the part of graduate school I have enjoyed the most has happened outside of the classroom and outside of the walls of our Animal Science building. My favorite part of graduate school is meeting and visiting with the producers in industry. It is through these experiences that I have learned the most about agriculture, where our industry is headed, and what we must proactively do (as producers) to ensure a bright future for our generation and generations to follow.
This past week I had the opportunity to visit with cattleman from Tippah Co. in Ripley, Mississippi. We visited about heifer selection and the type of traits we could select for to create functional females that would do "work" in our herds to provide a strong foundation that would ultimately lead to longevity and a profit. I had a great time meeting them, hearing their perspective, and learning about their cattle operations. I also really enjoyed the food...prime rib sandwiches and peach cobbler, Yum!