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Ivie Kate Mynatt

Ivie Kate Mynatt has 2 articles published.

Pipeline to Success

Today in the agricultural industry there is a growing importance for qualified individuals who understand the industry and all its moving parts. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is helping fill that void with leaders who are well educated about the industry.

In the fall of 2017, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University selected its first cohort for the Matador Institute for Leadership Engagement, a program that has been long in the works.

The idea for a leadership program for students within the college was on the table for years, according to Steve Fraze Ph.D., who was the CASNR interim dean during the CASNR MILE development and played an instrumental role in starting the program.

CASNR wanted to give students an opportunity to develop leadership skills that would set them apart as they enter the workforce.

“This program will create a pipeline of trained young agricultural leaders,” Fraze said, “who are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and understanding of the issues and challenges facing our industry.”

Lindsay Kennedy, MILE program director and a graduate of the TALL program, along with Fraze, began talking with key individuals outside of Texas Tech. These individuals were supportive of a possible leadership program, and many of whom were also TALL graduates.

It is unique. The MILE program offers students an experience different than a lot of the other activities we have within the college.

Many aspects of the MILE program were designed with the Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership program in mind. The TALL program focuses on getting participants out of their comfort zones and experiencing different sectors of the agriculture industry. These are two important factors of the MILE.

“It is unique,” Kennedy said. “The MILE program offers students an experience different than a lot of the other activities we have within the college.”

Kennedy said she hopes the MILE program will be a trademark of work ethic, professionalism and the leadership ability of CASNR students. The program aims to give students a broad understanding of agriculture and its key issues while teaching students to advocate for the industry.

Developing a network is also a key goal for the MILE program. Students will have the opportunity to meet and network with people involved in every aspect of agriculture, including livestock, crops, conservation, and policy

Selecting the First Cohort

Once the program was developed, CASNR began accepting applications for the MILE program’s first cohort. Selected applicants then participated in an interview with the MILE advisory committee, which is comprised of industry leaders and CASNR personnel.

“We wanted the cream of the crop,” Kennedy said. “I was really impressed with the quality students who applied for our first cohort.”

Tanya Foerster, advertising director for Capital Farm Credit, is a member of the advisory board for the CASNR MILE program and participated in the interview process.

“Wow, what a hard job to have,” Foerster said. “They were very highly qualified individuals, and it was really hard to narrow it down and pick a group. I was very impressed, and it made me feel good to be an alumnus of Texas Tech and [CASNR].”

Fourteen students representing five of the six CASNR departments were selected to be in the first CASNR MILE cohort.

Each cohort will run for three semesters and will require participants to enroll in a MILE-specific course each semester.

During their time in the program, students will tour farms, ranches, livestock facilities, processing facilities and will ultimately travel to Washington, D.C. and Austin to meet with federal and state policymakers and agencies. MILE members are also required to complete an internship during their cohort.

“You can put slide shows up all day,” Kennedy said, “but when you go and stand in a field and talk to somebody and experience the different areas of ag, that’s when you develop an understanding for how all those segments fit into our industry.”

The MILE program is also geared to teach students professional and communication skills, including dining etiquette, understanding social etiquette, and possessing communication skills are essential when advocating for a cause.

MILEInterview
Heath Hadley undergoes media training regarding controversial topics in agriculture. Photo courtesy of CASNR MILE.

Maggie Pipkin, a sophomore agricultural communications major from Spearman, Texas, is a member of the first MILE cohort.

Pipkin said she applied for MILE because of the variety of professional development opportunities offered through the program. Students are required to wear business professional or business casual anytime the cohort meets.

During one of the first MILE meetings, students learned the tips and tricks of table etiquette. They also received resume and cover letter critiques from professionals at the Texas Tech University Career Center.

“The etiquette dinner was extremely beneficial,” Pipkin said, “and one of my favorite things we have done so far. I learned so much.”

Kaylynn Kiker, a junior majoring in animal science with a business concentration from Allison, Texas, said the opportunities CASNR have been extraordinary so far.

“I like that the CASNR MILE is not a base-level leadership program,” Kiker said. “It’s going to take students who already have a lot of leadership skills and build on those.”

Kiker said she knows this program will have a positive effect on her life, not just from the leadership and communication skills she will obtain, but also from the numerous people she will network with in the industry.

Looking Ahead

As the MILE program continues, Foerster said she thinks it is going to be a snowball effect and the application rate will drastically increase.

“The future looks bright for agriculture,” Foerster said.

She said she feels certain the MILE program will be as beneficial to students as the TALL program was for her. Especially since students are given the opportunity to learn about and tour such a diverse range of agriculture industries.

“It is definitely something that is going to broaden their horizon,” Foerster said.

Fraze said he looks forward to seeing what students in the new MILE program will accomplish in their careers and do for the agriculture industry. The success of the program rides solely on the success of the students once in their careers.

Kiker said she looks forward to seeing how the MILE program will grow with the following cohorts.

“I think this program is going to continue to progress as more cohort members go out into the workforce and take on leadership positions in the industry,” Kiker said. “I can’t wait to see what my peers and the future cohort members following us will accomplish.”

We need it, we produce it, but we waste it.

What can you do to reduce food waste in your home?

I remember when I was younger, going to my great-grandmother’s house and the first thing my mom or grandma doing was looking through the fridge and cabinets for expired food. When they would try to throw away a jar of peanut butter or bottle of ketchup, that was a week or two expired, my great-grandmother would throw a fit. She always gave them the same lecture— saying that food did not go bad that fast and it was still perfectly safe to eat and tasted just fine.

Everyone always teased her about not throwing things away, but today we have the exact opposite problem in society. If fruits or vegetables do not look perfect, we throw them out without giving it a second thought.

As many of our great grandparents did, my great grandmother lived through the Great Depression, times were unimaginably tough for them and food was hard to come by.

According to The Atlantic, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that food waste is the largest component of waste in U.S. landfills.

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Every second in America, 3,000 pounds of food is wasted. Infographic from Infographiclist.com

To fix this issue, we must first understand the term “food waste.” This is simply throwing out or not consuming food. So, what can we do to help reduce the waste of food in America? Some simple solutions are to reduce the urge to only want perfect looking fruits and vegetables, breaking the habit of over-purchasing food at the grocery stores, and educating yourself on confusing sell by date labeling.

Picky People wanting Perfect Produce

Grocery stores and consumers can both be held responsible for the picky ways we purchase our produce. Some grocery stores routinely check produce for any oddly shaped or colored fruits and vegetables. If produce does not look exactly as it should, it is tossed straight into the trash. According to Business Insider,  of all the food produced in the U.S., one third of it is thrown out. Grocery stores contribute to a shocking 10 percent of that wasted food.

Some say the new “foodie” fad that has swept across all social media outlets has also played a role in this produce pickiness. Two pieces of squash could taste amazing, but if one is not the perfect bright yellow we associate with a squash then it will be tossed straight to the landfill.

What can we do about it?

First, we must understand not all fruits and vegetables are going to look perfect. If there are some bruises, scratches or different colored spots on the produce, it is usually okay! Also, understanding what the fruit or vegetable feels like when ripe is helpful. Many different blogs and videos online can help you become a more educated consumer. You should check this one out.

Many individuals have started putting their food waste in compost piles instead of taking it to landfills, as a way they can fertilize their yard.  Dairy, meat and bones are not good to put in your compost pile since they can create and grow harmful bacteria. Vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells and any other kitchen food waste are perfect! Creating a compost pile is an easy way to reduce food waste in landfills and give back to the earth.

CompostPileInfographic
Starting a compost pile with your family can be fun! Click the image to learn more about creating your very own compost pile. Image from Toxipedia

Buying Bulk, a Bang for your Buck

As farming practices have become more efficient, our food has become less expensive. This is great for the American households, but it causes us to buy much more food than we need. Bulk food stores also add to this issue because consumers can get a better price per item if they buy it in bulk.

In a study done by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab as well as the Getulio Vargas Foundation, it was found that the leading cause of food waste in homes is simply buying too much food. When we buy in bulk, it is less likely that we are going to be able to consume all of the food we purchased. But, it is also a very easy habit to fix!

Landfill
Food is the most abundant source of waste in most landfills in the United States. Image found on theatlantic.com.

What can we do about it?

Meal planning is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are buying food that will not go to waste, and it is also a great thing to do as a family. When you plan out meals you know exactly what you will need for the week or two weeks until you go back to the grocery store.

Meal planning can be challenging to start if you have never done it before, but Pinterest is a great resource. There are also tons of other tips online to help you plan your family meals and reduce the amount of wasted food in your household.

When you go to the grocery store, make sure you have a list and stick to it! Those fruits and vegetables might be on sale and look delicious, but remember you can’t eat them all!

Confusing Sell by Dates

Today we have food at our fingertips, and for such a small price. This has caused us to become picky consumers. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the leading issues in food waste is confusing date labels. The Food Date Labeling Act, introduced to the House and Senate in May of 2016, was created to lessen the restrictions on donating food that is past its due date.

According to an online article by Still Tasty, use-by, best if used by, best by and best

SellByDates
Sell by labeling can be confusing for some consumers, ultimately leading to more food waste. Image found on sheetlabels.com.

before are provided by the manufacturer of the product but is not set by the USDA. These dates simply inform the consumer of when the product may not be at the absolute best quality, but are not set for safety reasons. Many consumers get confused about the dates and throw their food out, causing an abundance of food to not be consumed.

 

What can we do about it?

To learn the difference between confusing terms like “sell by date” “best if used by” and “best before,” watch this video. Simply tasting, smelling or looking at a certain products can usually give you a clue as to whether it needs to be thrown away or not.

There are some cities in the United States that have started collecting food from grocery stores that are a day or two after their sell by date and using it to prepare food at soup kitchens for the hungry. Food that is going to be thrown away at a grocery store and just wasted. What better way to reduce waste by preparing a meal for those at a soup kitchen? France has actually banned grocery store from throwing away their expired foods. Instead, they have them put produce in a compost or donate it to food pantries.

So maybe you can be the change in your community and help feed the hungry while reducing the amount of food waste in our landfills.

Doing our part!

Today, the world is becoming more and more concerned about where their food comes from and how their food was produced. In order for us to feed our growing population, we not only have to grow food more efficiently, but we also have to reduce the waste of food.

Although my great grandmother keeping peanut butter in her cabinet for two years was not good, I think we can learn something from the older generation regarding food waste. No matter where we live, there are ways we can reduce the waste of food. We can become more educated on selecting produce, only buying the amount of food we need, and learning more about sell by dates on products. As consumers, we should be responsible with our food and not be so wasteful! We have a growing population and hungry families; we don’t have food to waste.

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