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  • Agriculture Sciences Major
  • Animal Science

Megan Lamb ’22, an agricultural sciences major, participated in a joint summer internship program between the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) and the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute.

Lamb’s internship was made possible with funding from the NMSP’s Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project run by Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management and director of the NMSP in the Department of Animal Science in Cornell CALS.

Quick Facts:

What do you want the public to know about this field of work?

Agriculture is a part of the community in which it’s located. According to the USDA, nearly 40% of the country’s landmass is farmland. Farmers can have a huge impact on soil and water resources and the nutrients within those systems. Farmers have the opportunity to aid in solutions to environmental problems in addition to making the farm more sustainable and profitable.

It’s critical that the work happening at the Miner Institute and the NMSP are highlighted as agriculture becomes more efficient. This is how we will become stewards of the natural world.

What attracted you to this internship experience?

I reached out to Quirine because I think the research and projects she is involved in are interesting and cutting edge. Sustainable agriculture and digital agriculture are becoming the norm and as a future teacher, I should be preparing my students to be ready to enter the ag industry with the most recent technology and relevant experiences.

How was the internship structured?

Over the summer, I was located at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY. Half of my time was spent as a water quality intern at the Miner Institute and the other time was spent working with the NMSP team on the Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project. We examined trends in nutrient levels and management of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) throughout the fields of the Miner farm.

What did your day-to-day work look like?

As a water quality intern, I helped collect data and water samples at each of our six locations. The fields were paired with a different treatment at each location and a control field next to it. We wanted to see how agronomic practices were being implemented and how they influenced the nutrients found in the runoff water.

I also was able to analyze the mass balance records of the Miner Institute over the course of a 15-year period to see if the farm has improved its nutrient flows. I specifically researched soil test phosphorus levels to observe the trends over time to determine if any fields had excess phosphorus and how they were managed.

What were some of your favorite experiences from the internship?

I’m a people person so having such great people to work with here at Cornell and at Miner really made the experience special. I also appreciated that Miner was willing to open up other opportunities as well. When things on the water quality side were slower due to droughts, I was able to help out in the dairy barn feeding cows or taking milk samples. I enjoyed helping give farm tours at Miner as well where we educated the public about dairy and agriculture.

Did this experience help reaffirm the direction of your future career?

Education is still definitely the career for me, but I recognized that being a successful agriculture teacher also means taking an interest in the greater community around you.

Doing things for the community shows your love and commitment to the people and place you’re a part of.

What gives you hope for the future?

We have some extremely bright and passionate people working in the field of nutrient management and water quality. They care about what they do, are excellent at communicating its importance to the greater agriculture community and are willing to share ideas and help educate farmers on best practices at their own farms!

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