From Issue Winter 2018
The Bearden Dairy Research Center, a unit of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, is an award winning dairy farm that flourishes around production, research, teaching, and outreach. Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station partners with the MSU Extension Service as an important strategic partner at the MAFES Dairy.
Dr. Amanda Stone is the MSU Extension Service's state dairy specialist and an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Stone has worked with the MAFES Bearden Dairy Research Center from the beginning of her appointment at Mississippi State, three years ago.
Several classes are held at the dairy to give students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
"We use our cattle to teach future veterinarians, dairy scientists, and animal scientists about how to work with cows," Stone said.
The dairy has ongoing research that is aimed at benefitting Mississippi producers.
"Our goal is always to conduct research that is directly applicable to Mississippi's dairy producers-things that can be implemented by our producers to improve their herds," Stone said. "We have a great herd for research and are growing it in order to have better statistical power for studies, but even more importantly, we have an amazing farm crew and graduate students that work hard to ensure our projects run smoothly" said Stone.
Extension events are an important component at the MAFES dairy.
"We have producers come out to learn what we are doing correctly, or sometimes not correctly, which is just as important," Stone added.
The MAFES dairy, in conjunction with the MSU Extension Service hosts a number of outreach events, such as Breakfast on the Farm. These events are aimed at fostering a passion for agriculture in children of all ages.
"I love working with students, from Pre-K to college. They are the future of agriculture and many of them are not exposed or understand its importance," Stone said. "Like our herd manager tells them on tours, agriculture impacts everything we do every single day. I've tried to put a lot of focus on youth in my time here with the goal that it will directly have a positive impact on those children's lives, but also with the hope that they can extend their newfound knowledge and experience onto others in order to positively impact buying preferences in the grocery store and encouraging careers in agriculture."
As a working farm, The MAFES Bearden Dairy Research Center is first and foremost a production dairy. The MAFES Sales Store sells products made from the dairy farm's most notable asset, milk.
"The milk produced at the dairy is delivered daily to the MAFES Custer Dairy Processing Plant, which in turn produces products for sale at the MAFES Sales Store," said Stone, who explained how the production of dairy products is able to run "full circle" from farm to table. "That helps give us protection at the dairy level, so that we always have a place to sell our milk. And the Custer Dairy Processing Plant produces great products."
As dairy farms throughout the nation are closing, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the MSU Extension Service partner to conduct research and outreach to help Southern producers thrive. Teaching through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences prepares the next generation of agricultural leaders.
"I see my role not just for helping the producers and our students at Mississippi State, but also helping the dairy industry, as a whole, by shining a positive light on what dairy producers do each day to provide a safe and nutritious food to our families every single day."