Ever wonder where your meat comes from? What steps go into raising beef so you can enjoy a delicious hamburger or steak? CTAHR Extension agent Mike DuPonte and farm manager Marla Fergerstrom shared one step in this process with two CTAHR employees at Mealani Experimental Research Station and Farm.
In return for their arm service, Extension specialist in entomology Joanna Bloese and agricultural economist Shannon Sand experienced how to artificially inseminate heifers. The genetically superior Angus cattle produced by Mealani’s breeding program have won national recognition, and AI is the cornerstone of their program.
Joanna says, “Mike understands the value of interdisciplinary collaboration. When you open people up to new experiences, the end result can be surprising. The more diverse the collaboration, the more probability for diverse perspectives, creativity, and innovation to occur across all collaborators research and extension programs.”
Despite the restrictions of COVID-19, this experience brought home to the participants the value of hands-on experience, as well as the importance of experimental farms, which foster learning that goes beyond technical skills to breeding respect and understanding among animals, people, and the community.
While any collaboration involves some level of open-mindedness, active listening and communication, actually walking a few steps in someone else’s shoes (covered in protective plastic shoe bags!) can cultivate understanding, learning, and compassion for others’ disciplines.
“This was an eye-opening experience for me,” Joanna adds. “You may think you know what goes into raising and harvesting beef, but you don’t truly know any process until you experience it first-hand. I still may not understand the entire process of beef production, but this experience changed and enhanced my relationship to my food. I will be more intentional about where I purchase my food from and how much food waste I produce.”