Beginning a New Chapter

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that it was started as a class project. And as May begins, and the semester comes to an end, so does my project.

Before starting “Boiler Ag Talk,” I didn’t know much about blogging, and to be honest, I was pretty nervous to write for an unidentified audience. But nearly forty posts later, I can’t help but think how happy I am that I was able to share agricultural stories from around Purdue University, Indiana, and across the country.

As I write this final post, I am thankful for all of the viewers who took the time to read a post, and my followers who came back more than once. I will be graduating one week from today with my Bachelor’s in Agricultural Communication. I’m not sure how much free time I will have, however if I get a chance I’ll try to make an updated post.

But, for now, this is Brooke Fruits signin’ off!

Hands-on opportunities at Purdue

As a college student, a lot of time is spent inside the classroom. But there is nothing better than taking what you have learned and putting toward hands-on work experience.  One way to do that is through research.  At Purdue University, there are many avenues for students to get involved in research, and for students in the College of Agriculture, one of those opportunities is at the Animal Sciences Research and Education Center (ASREC).

Located ten miles northwest of campus, the ASREC sits on 1,515 acres of land and has eleven operating units. These units include:

  • Aquaculture
  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Poultry
  • Sheep
  • Swine
  • Farm Operations
  • Feed Mill
  • USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit Lab
  • Little Pine Watershed
  • Wetlands Study

As stated on the ASREC website, the mission of the ASREC is, “to provide animals, facilities, technical assistance and labor to conduct research, provide instruction, and assist in extension educational activities.”

Not only does each unit have its own manager and a full-time staff but part-time student employees put in nearly 500 hours each week. This work opportunity allows them to get out of the classroom, get their hands dirty on the farm, and use their knowledge in a work setting. And, some students are able to utilize these facilities for their own research.

In order to give more insight on the opportunities for students at theASREC, I have put together a Soundslides that highlights an agricultural communication student working at the Purdue Dairy Unit.

Follow this link to check out pictures and audio featuring a student worker at the Purdue Dairy Unit:

Lauren Rowe, a junior agricultural communication student of Auburn, Ind., wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to go out to Dairy Unit.  At the farm she is in charge of tending to newborn calves, preparing the bottles used for feeding, and cleaning and rebeddig pens.

Waking up before sunrise and working at the farm gives Rowe a chance to “start the day off right,” as she would say.  And because she grew up around farm animals, and has a passion for the beef cattle industry, the Dairy Unit is a home away from home.  But not only is it a place of comfort and relaxation, it is also a place for hands-on learning.

Before switching her major to Ag Comm, Rowe was studying animal sciences with a focus on production.  By working with the young calves, she is able to continue to apply what she learned in her ANSC courses, such as biology and animal nutrition.

If you are interested in working at the ASREC, check out there student employment opportunies.

Note: Tomorrow I will be posting my a final blog post for the semester.






Summer Activities: mark your calendars

The school year is wrapping up, and summer is about to take over. While many summer activities include cookouts, boating and soaking up the sunshine, I wanted to provide a few agricultural activities that you don’t want to miss out on:




Purdue’s Spring Beauty

There is nothing better than walking across campus and seeing green grass, flowers, and blooming trees.  Now that we finally have Spring weather, I can’t help but be happy about the warm sunshine we’re enjoying on campus this weekend.  In honor of having a great weekend with great weather at Purdue, I wanted to share some beautiful, scenic Spring pictures taken around campus and shared on Twitter.

Hope you all are enjoying Spring!


Indiana’s Coliseum is Open for New Memories

The Indiana State Fair has deemed this year as the “Year of the Coliseum.” Due to needing updates, the Pepsi Coliseum closed in October 2012. After 18 months of renovations, the Coliseum reopened yesterday. The public was invited to come out to the free grand opening and cutting of the ribbon.

There has been a lot of excitement over the new coliseum, and I think that’s because of the personal tie many people have to the historic building. Whether it was taking the first step onto the freshly dragged dirt or walking in the ring for the Grand Drive at the State Fair, many youth and their families have meaningful memories from under that roof.

For me, the Coliseum takes me back to when I was thirteen. One of my best memories in that infamous ring was when my horse and I took our first steps in there together. I had butterflies like crazy as I entered that huge arena, but I remember being so proud of the two of us working as a team when we walked out with a ribbon.

He might be an old man now, but some of my favorite memories of the Coliseum are shared with my horse, Zip:


It may be renovated, but I have no doubt that the Coliseum will forever be a historic Indiana landmark and place of lifelong memories for Hoosiers.


*The Pepsi Coliseum first opened in 1939 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
*The only Beetle’s concert ever held in Indiana was at the Coliseum in 1964
*From 1967-1974 the Coliseum was home to the Indiana Pacers, and during that period the team won three American Basketball Association Championships.
*Past presidents have given speeches in the Coliseum, including John F. Kennedy in 1959 and George W. Bush in 2003.

What’s New
*From October 2012 to April 2014 the Coliseum went through a $63 million renovation.
*The new minor league hockey team, Indy Fuel, will have a brand new locker room.
*An LED video scoreboard will hang overhead.
*New seating will accommodate 8,200 people, which is 200 more than before
*A new concourse bar allows you to enjoy a drink and food while still watching what’s going on in the arena.
* Outside brick and limestone and the metal superstructure are still being used.
*One section will hold original seats from 1939.

To see pictures of the Coliseum undergoing renovation, click here.

Pancakes Under the Stars–Don’t miss out

If you’re anything like me, you refuse to go grocery shopping toward the end of the school year, and your pickings are getting slim.  But, don’t worry.  Purdue’s Agricultural Council has you covered.  Their annual Midnight Pancake Breakfast is this Wednesday (tomorrow) at 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Bring your friends, and head on over to the Agricultural Administration building lawn (along State Street) to enjoy music and a mechanical bull while the Ag Council serves free pancakes and milk. The event isn’t just for College of Ag students–it’s open to everyone.

Purdue Ag Council hosts multiple events throughout the year, including the Ice Cream Social, College of Ag Hog Roast, and Hot Chocolate Social.  You can also stay connected with them on Facebook and Twitter

Easter Fun

The Easter bunny might be hiding your eggs, but he isn’t producing them. As I’m preparing to decorate Easter eggs this afternoon, I can’t help but think that many of those hardboiled eggs that are being dyed various colors probably came from Indiana.

Fun Fact: Indiana ranks NO. 3 in top egg producing states.

I don’t come from a poultry farm, but we do have around 20 hens and roosters. They produce plenty of eggs for our family, and we’re able to give some away to friends. And when this time of year rolls around, I don’t have to go very far to find and decorate my Easter eggs.

This hen recently surprised us and hatched five chicks under our front porch. Around 20 weeks from now these chicks will be laying their own eggs.


Happy Easter!

Lessons Learned Through Agricultural Conversations

This morning as I was reading a post from Agriculture Proud titled, “How to Lose an Argument on Food and Agriculture Topics,” and I just had to share it. In his post Ryan Goodman, the author of Agriculture Proud, included a quote from Darwin that really stuck with me:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the ones most adaptable to change.” -Darwin

Granted Darwin was probably referencing his theory on “survival of the fittest,” but I think being adaptable to change is an essential quality for all aspects of life, especially in agriculture. In Goodman’s post he talks about the lessons he has learned during failure and why people, who have the best intentions of advocating, lose arguments. He specifically relates the quote from Darwin to failing to engage in other conversations and seek out other perspectives, but I think the quote pertains to each of his points.

Goodman’s ten lessons learned during failure and reasons for losing an argument are:

1. Assuming science will give us the answers; it only gives us some of the answers.

2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices.

3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices.

4. Being reactive rather than proactive.

5. Assuming we can’t do better.

6. Attacking everyone who disagrees with you in a negative, critical manner.

7. Not being willing to listen because we are so busy responding.

8. Assuming that the lunatic fringe is the general public.

9. Assuming that because someone disagrees with you they are stupid, evil or both.

10. Not working to branch outside your comfort zone.

As I was reading these points I couldn’t help but think how true they are. As an agricultural enthusiast, I can look back to every argument I ever had and lost and relate at least one of these points to the reason for losing. We can’t know everything, and we are not going to come from the same background as the person we are in conversation with. But, if we take Darwin’s quote to heart, and work to be more adaptive, we can not only be more successful arguing a point, but also learn more along the way.

In the post, Goodman then goes on to talk about how we can approach controversial topics. He has multiple points, but a few of my favorites are: consider your own biases or confusion surrounding the issue; set a framework and objectives for the discussion that lead to engagement and consideration of opposing viewpoints; and at the end of a conversation summarize and reflect, then always leave the door open for follow-up conversations.

After reading this post, I hope to remember these lessons and become better at engaging in agricultural conversations while being open-minded to other perspectives. To read the full list of tips and expand on lessons learned, check out this post on Agriculture Proud.

Spring Fest at Purdue

There might be a few flurries in the air, but Spring really has sprung. And one popular event at Purdue this time of year is Spring Fest. This annual event, which took place this past weekend, is a time for children, parents, students, and people from the community to visit the university and learn something new through fun, hands-on activities.

Set up around campus were displays, contests, and demonstrations. A few of the events include a cricket spitting contest, equine treadmill demonstrations, and sheep shearing. Not only is it a great experience for the kids (or adults), but Spring Fest is also a chance for Purdue students to share knowledge that they are passionate about. If you missed this great event, or are already looking forward to the next one, the next Spring Fest will be held April 18-19, 2015.

Because I couldn’t be there, I relied on Twitter to see everything that was going on. Here are some of my favorite Tweets from the event:

Check out additional photos from Spring Fest here.



Wrapping up imAGine Purdue

If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know that this week was Ag Week at Purdue. Unfortunately, I was away at a conference in Florida and didn’t get to enjoy the full experience of Ag Week. However, being away opened my eyes to the success of the week and the increase in the online conversation.

Being a transfer student, last year was my first time to be a part of Purdue Ag Week. As a first timer, I thought it was great that the College of Ag option clubs were taking activities to the north side of campus and trying to share their stories with non-agricultural students. But this year, I was able to “watch” Purdue Ag Week in a whole new light. Multiple states away, I was able to stay in tough with what was going on on campus. I stayed up-to-date with the day’s agenda, and was able to see feedback and pictures for each day’s activities.

Being an “outsider” I was amazed at how close I felt to Ag Week. Through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I was able to see what was going on at campus and how students were reacting to it. I was able to stay up-to-date with the day’s activities and see feedback and pictures with each day’s activities.

As a Boilermaker, I couldn’t be more proud. What do you think of the online conversation about Purdue Ag Week? Did it have an impact? Check out the conversation with #imAGinePurdue.