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1408 PD: New facility attracts students to Iowa State University

Published on 29 September 2008

Students and faculty at Iowa State University are thrilled about the recent addition to their stomping grounds.

The Dairy and Animal Science Education and Discovery Facility opened in 2007 about five miles from campus.

“It’s brand new,” says Lee Kilmer, a professor of animal science who was actively involved in the project. “We went out into the middle of a cornfield and started building.”

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In order to fund the facility construction, ISU sold their former Ankeny farm to the City of Ankeny. The sale was enough to cover the $15 million project.

“The land of the old farm was located right within the city limits. And the location of the new facility is a lot closer to the campus,” Kilmer explained. “It’s a win-win situation for both the City of Ankeny and the university.”

Although located too far from campus for classroom lectures, Kilmer says the facility will hold a multitude of learning opportunities for students including research, laboratories and short courses.

The facility features a double-12 rapid-exit parallel parlor for a milking herd size of 450 head. Kilmer says a manure solids separator located at the facility helps students and faculty to “recapture and reclaim energy.” A composting facility is being built and will collect solids from the dairy and livestock centers as well as edible food waste from the school’s dining commons.

Although some construction is still underway, students have been working in the facility since November of last year. According to Kilmer, about 20 students work part-time throughout the school year.

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Jonathan Jaschen, a senior in dairy science and agronomy, says the facility is a great opportunity for both part-time student workers and those taking classes.

“[The facility] gives students the chance to see what a large-scale operation looks like,” Jaschen says. He worked about 15 hours a week throughout the spring semester and was able to tour the facility through a couple of his classes. He believes the program’s new addition is especially beneficial for students planning careers after graduation.

“Students can compare the facility to their own operations to figure out what they want to do the same and what they want to do differently,” Jaschen says.

The facility will also benefit the dairy judging team, according to recent ISU dairy science alumna and past team member, Jessica Tekippe.

“The spring introductory judging class can now be taught on location,” says Tekippe. “It is a definite advantage to the judging teams and will strengthen future teams.”

In addition to providing a better learning experience for current students, the ISU faculty also hopes the facility will generate more interest in the dairy program.

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“I’ve always had the mentality: ‘If we build it, they will come,’” Kilmer says. Kilmer’s prediction seems to have proven to be correct.

“This year, we have double the number of incoming freshmen in the program than we did last year,” he says. “We expect the enrollment to continue to increase.”

Tekippe agrees, “With a new state-of-the-art dairy in place, [prospective] students can now see ISU has all the right components of a dairy program including coursework, faculty, facilities and a strong reputation for turning out industry leaders.” PD

Emily Caldwell
Staff Writer
Progressive Dairyman

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