UAPB Senior Completes Extension Apprenticeship at Mississippi State University

Will Hehemann School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

Picture for article on Lizney Rudds

From left: Dr. Rocky Lemus, MSU Extension forage specialist, Corianne Schmidt, MSU junior and Forage Program apprentice, Lizney Rudds, UAPB senior and Forage Program apprentice, and Dr. Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service.

Lizney Rudds, a senior animal science major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff from Detroit, Michigan, was one of eight students nationwide selected for the Extension Service Apprenticeship at Mississippi State University (MSU). The paid internship program offers students the chance to earn college credit while working directly with a faculty specialist to assist with ongoing research and participate in outreach efforts to key stakeholders.

Rudds’ internship was coordinated through the MSU Forage Program, which conducts research on forage management practices that support the hay and livestock industry. Over the course of the 13-week program, she assisted with studies on the planting and harvesting of forage crops. Her responsibilities included collecting, drying and testing plant samples in the laboratory, as well as maintaining study plots and treating them for weeds.

“In addition to helping with existing MSU research projects, I also began my own study in June,” Rudds said. “My research tested the impacts of the fungus Trichoderma on yields, nutrient uptake and growth rates of warm season annual forages. I was in charge of monitoring, fertilizing, collecting data and other management requirements necessary for the success of the study.”

Rudds said she spent most days in the field, harvesting forages and collecting samples. If the weather was bad, she and the other members of the research project spent the day grinding harvested forage samples and running analyses in the laboratory.

“The aspect of the internship I liked the most were the visits to various farms or county offices around the state,” she said. “No operation is alike – we visited small family dairy farms, larger beef cattle farms and even cattle research facilities to assist with rumen sample collections. Through these visits we were able to see the types of problems producers face in their businesses and offer them advice on how to help resolve the problems and increase production and profit.”

Rudds’ advisor at UAPB, Dr. Jayant Lohakare, associate professor of animal science, said the internship was a good complement to her studies in animal sciences at UAPB. She learned more about the production side of livestock and animal nutrition, including the appropriate feeds for cattle, horses and sheep. At the same time, she also learned more about plant and soil sciences.

Dr. Lohakare told Rudds about the internship opportunity at MSU.

“Rudds was a deserving student for this apprenticeship,” he said. “She is sincere, hard-working and very punctual. Though she ended up choosing to pursue the apprenticeship at MSU, she was also the only candidate selected from the UAPB animal science program for a two-week Access to Animal-Related Careers Program at Purdue University.”

Dr. Lohakare said UAPB courses in animal nutrition and livestock production prepared Rudds for the internship by giving her an understanding of animal production, animal feeding and the importance of forages in animal agriculture.

“Rudds gained valuable firsthand experience through this internship as she dealt with farming issues and worked to find solutions,” he said. “These experiences will prepare her for careers at agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in the animal industry and also as a veterinarian who treats farm animals. I am very proud of her achievements.”

Rudds encourages other UAPB agriculture majors to consider applying for an internship at MSU to take part in a unique, hands-on learning experience alongside faculty specialists. She said she appreciated working with her supervisor, Dr. Rocky Lemus, MSU Extension forage specialist, who trusted her to fulfill all of her obligations.

“There was rarely a second that I wasn’t learning something new,” she said. “The internship also pushed me to work on my public speaking skills because the job required the ability to communicate well with producers and other clients.”

As she prepares to take the Graduate Record Examinations, Rudds would like to find a job as an animal caretaker or veterinary intern to strengthen her application for veterinary school.

“My ultimate goal is to become a veterinarian and specialize in small animal rehabilitation,” she said.

At UAPB, Rudds is a member of the Collegiate 4-H Club, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences Club, STEM Scholars Academy, Carolyn F. Blakely Honors Program, Spirit Team, Vesper Choir and Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity.

The project at MSU is supported by the FY16 USDA NIFA AFRI ELI REEU Fellowships Program of the NIFA, USDA, Grant #2017-67033-26015.

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