Three South Dakota State University students are among only 10 college students selected nationwide by the National Pork Producers Council to receive 2020 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships. The students were chosen as a result of their involvement and dedication to the pork industry, as well as their intention to pursue careers in the industry.
The SDSU students selected to receive the $2,500 scholarships are Dana Edleman, sophomore food science major from Cambridge, Iowa; Molly Kroeger, senior microbiology and biotechnology double major from Lennox, South Dakota; and Logan Tesch, a sophomore animal science and agricultural business double major from Henderson, Minnesota. To be eligible for the scholarships, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture.
The Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation, and managed and administered by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). The awards were announced at NPPC’s annual National Pork Industry Forum held March 4-6 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Tesch grew up on a diversified farm with a finishing pig site, cattle and crops. Working in the barns and taking care of pigs with his dad and uncle sparked his interest in the swine industry.
“I chose to come to SDSU because of the recently built Swine Education and Research Facility,” Tesch said. “The new technology and practices set it apart. Not even one week after beginning freshman year I was working in the facility.”
He has worked in all aspects of the Swine Education and Research Facility, including farrowing, breeding, processing piglets, daily care and feeding. He is a student manager at the unit, so he also helps with training new students and making schedules and other management decisions.
Additionally, Tesch is currently involved in giving virtual farm tours of the facility through the Operation Main Street project with the National Pork Board.
“This opportunity allows me to have livestream videos with people across the nation who want to learn more about the pork industry. I’ve given tours to groups such as pre-veterinarian classes, nutritionists, county commissioners and high school students,” he said.
He is serving as a 2019-2020 Minnesota State Pork Ambassador, in which he promotes the pork industry throughout the state, on social media, and at the nation’s capital. On campus, he is involved in Swine Club as the vice president, Little International, the National Agri Marketing Association (NAMA), Block and Bridle and Farmhouse Fraternity.
This past summer, he had an internship with Wakefield Pork, Inc., in Gaylord, Minnesota, where he experienced all aspects of pork production.
“After graduating I would like to go into the field of animal nutrition or agricultural finance with hopes of building my own finishing pig barn and eventually return to the family farm,” Tesch said.
Edleman showed pigs in 4-H for eight years. She also fed and marketed pigs to local customers as custom processed pork as part of her FFA supervised agricultural experience (SAE) project in high school. Throughout high school, she volunteered for three summers at the World Pork Expo for Kemin Industries, a global animal nutrition ingredient company, helping the marketing team with duties such as providing swine barn tours to international customers.
This past summer, Edleman completed an internship in the research and development lab at Kemin Industries in which she assisted with assessing the antimicrobial properties of different feed ingredients for a new swine gut health product in their new product pipeline.
“My diverse experiences in animal agriculture have fully ignited my desire to work toward a career in research and development or food safety and regulation, hopefully in an industry related to pork,” Edleman said.
On campus, she is involved in the Food Science Club, Dairy Club, Cru, is a lab research assistant for a food science professor, and serves as a peer mentor in the Dairy and Food Science Department.
Kroeger first became interested in swine production from growing up on her family’s farm where they have a small farrow to finish swine operation. She also showed pigs in 4-H. In high school, she became familiar with an emerging swine disease new to the United States called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) and decided to compete in the FFA prepared public speaking career development event with the topic being PEDV. She won the state contest and was a semi-finalist in the national competition.
“This experience in FFA sparked my interest in disease research and compelled me to pursue a career within the swine industry,” Kroeger said.
While in college, she has taken advantage of opportunities to gain experience in the swine industry, including being a Gene Transfer Center Intern for the Pig improvement Company (PIC) and a Swine Research and Development Intern for Merck Animal Health. This summer, she will be a Research and Technology Intern at the National Pork Board.
Additionally, Kroeger also gives virtual tours of the SDSU Swine Education and Research Facility to consumer audiences across the country through the Operation Main Street project with the National Pork Board.
At SDSU, Kroeger works as a molecular diagnostics undergraduate laboratory research assistant at the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory on the campus of SDSU.
“I have worked extensively in the production of monoclonal antibodies for multiple diagnostic testing platforms including Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS), PEDV and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome Coronavirus (SADS-CoV),” Kroeger said.
She has also been involved in the Wool Judging Team, Meat Judging Team, SDSU Fishback Honors College, Little International, and Agriculture Future of America.
After graduating from SDSU in May, Kroeger plans to continue her education by pursuing a Ph.D. with emphasis in infectious disease, immunology and virology.
“I aspire to work at a livestock pharmaceutical company making vaccines for livestock. I’m excited to couple new advances in science with my own passion and ingenuity to provide solutions for swine and livestock producers. Additionally, I hope to continue being an Operation Main Street speaker to educate consumers about the livestock industry and agriculture throughout my career,” Kroeger said.
The Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CME hog futures. The scholarship was renamed in 2006 to honor the passing of NPPC board member Lois Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture. Britt spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and served Smithfield Hog Production in a public and government relations role during the final 15 years of her career. She was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Pork Council Hall of Fame and awarded the North Carolina 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award.