Student Stories: Where's the beef? Animal Science major finds it in internship

Senior Animal Science major Elizabeth Palmer learned a lot about livestock and cattle through her internship with the United States Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska.

Palmer's interest in animal science began at a young age. She grew up working on her family's beef and crop farm near Bernville, Pennsylvania, where she first was exposed to working with cattle.

During her junior year, Palmer decided that she wanted to pursue a master's degree in beef cattle nutrition. This led her to look for internships that included research in regions where beef cattle are more prominent.

"I had never before heard of the Meat Animal Research Center -- I stumbled upon it while googling internships," Palmer said. "The location, the resources available to the center and the research projects being performed there are what led me to apply. Fortunately I was offered a laboratory technician internship position."

Palmer worked in the center's Nutrition and Environmental Research Unit, studying gas emissions and odors from feedlots.

"While I was there, I worked on various projects that looked at different treatments to lower emissions and gases. I spent 10 weeks working at the center, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience," Palmer said. "I was exposed to large-scale agriculture and applied research methods."

Palmer said that her involvement in student clubs on campus helped her gain valuable experience and knowledge in the animal science field.

"At Penn State I am involved in both Block and Bridle and Collegiate Cattlewomen," she said. "From being actively involved in clubs in my major, I have been able to travel around the country and have been exposed to different aspects of the industry."

Palmer explained that being active in clubs helped her decide which direction she wanted to go with her animal science degree in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"As a freshman in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, I had my mind set on becoming a large-animal veterinarian," she said. "After the many conventions and conferences I have attended through my major, I now have decided that I would rather go to graduate school and have a career that includes both research and extension work with producers."

Palmer advises students to get involved in activities within their major.

"If it wasn't for my club participation, I never would have had the opportunity to travel as much as I did, and I wouldn’t have been exposed to as many different aspects of the industry," she said.

"Also, don't be afraid to try something that is new to you. This past year I was on the Penn State Livestock Judging team. Before coming to school I had zero experience in livestock judging, but it has been one of the most rewarding things I have done at the University."

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Last Updated February 25, 2016