WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) supported by the Iowa Pork Producers Association has awarded four scholarships to students researching pork and swine. The middle and high school students, who come from different schools, will compete at science fair events throughout Iowa over the next two months.
Kayla Livesay, Preston Feuerback, Hannah Tunender, and the team of Brody Moeller and Ward Fraise, were each awarded $200 to support their research and present their work at one of the four science fairs and symposiums hosted in Iowa. The scholarships are funded by the Iowa Pork Producers Association which hopes to encourage more students to get involved in swine and pork science research.
Livesay is a junior at Van Buren Community Schools and is researching bacteria and fungi to increase crop production and soil fertility. Swine are largely reliant on corn and soybeans as major components of their feed. Many swine farmers also raise corn and soybeans. Livesay’s research can help farmers produce more and better feed for their animals.
“This [research] could result in healthier animals, reduced chance of sickness, and better growth rates,” said Livesay. “Overall this research benefits farmers aiming to be more economic and environmentally [sustainable] in a variety of ways.”
Feuerbach is a junior at Clear Lake High School and is researching biosecurity protocols at swine facilities. Biosecurity measures help prevent the transfer of diseases from humans to pigs to help ensure the health of the herd. Feuerbach’s research measures contaminant levels before and after cleaning the barn to ensure cleaning procedures are adequate. Barns are cleaned after each herd of pigs are moved to another barn or taken to market.
The team of Moeller and Fraise are researching disinfectants used on farrowing crates. The sixth graders from Central Lee Middle School in Donnellson will take swabs of farrowing crates after they have been cleaned and observe any bacteria growth. Their findings could provide evidence to farmers and a recommendation on the best cleaning product to use. This will in turn ensure the health of the sow and the piglets throughout farrowing and after birth.
Tunender is a senior at Harlan High School and is researching swine and animal behavior. She will be observing how the pigs access their food and water. Her observations could result in recommendations for improvements to current systems. She hopes to use this work to then pursue a degree in animal science.
“We are excited to support these students,” said Joyce Hoppes of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Good science helps propel responsible pork production forward. As the nation’s top pork-producing state, it’s in every Iowan’s interest to keep pork and pork by-products as an important part of farming and the food supply.”
Students will compete with their research projects at one of the science fairs and symposiums hosted in Iowa including: the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (March 2-3, 2020 in Iowa City, IA); the Western Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 14, 2020 in Fort Dodge, IA); the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 20, 2020 in Cedar Rapids, IA); or the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (March 26-27, 2020 in Ames, IA). For more information, visit www.iowaagliteracy.org.
— Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
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