Student Stories: Animal Science major wins gold at FFA convention

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For Penn State freshman Shelby Hahn, competing at the National FFA Convention in Milk Quality and Products was the culmination of a journey that has included everything from working as a milk hand to a being a veterinary assistant.

In late 2013, the animal science major in the College of Agricultural Sciences joined 148 other students in taking two exams at the convention in Louisville, Ky. -- one on milk marketing and the other on milk production.

The competition also included identifying different cheeses; performing a "Copan" milk test, which detects antibiotics and sulphonamides in milk and milk products; and a problem-solving portion in which students were expected to identify the fat content, as well as the defects, of milk provided in samples.

Hahn had the highest written exam score in the nation in the dairy category. This score was combined with the other portions of the dairy competition and placed her 29th overall -- qualifying her for the gold.

"I’ve been participating in this competition since I was a freshman in high school, but my biology courses at Penn State were particularly valuable, especially when it came to knowledge I couldn't get on the job," Hahn said.

The Sabilasville, Md., native serves as the secretary for the recently established collegiate chapter of FFA at Penn State Mont Alto, where she is a student. She also stays busy working on her family's beef and dairy farm, participating in 4-H, fitting dairy cattle, and showing dairy cattle at the local, regional, state and national levels.

Hahn has come to prefer the technical and detail-oriented tasks associated with a dairy farm, such as balancing feed rations and making sure that the cattle's nutritional standards are being met, as well as the hands-on interaction she gets with each cow.

"My courses, work experience and competitions really have worked together, so I can relate what's in the feed, why it's in the feed, how the animal gets nutrition and how they extract that energy for themselves," she said.

Learn about the Animal Science major.

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Last Updated May 08, 2014