Carly Bass is currently pursuing a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in animal science through Cornell CALS. Read on to learn about Carly's career path and her progress toward completing her MPS capstone project before graduating this fall.
How did your path lead you to Cornell’s CALS?
For my bachelor’s degree, I studied animal science at the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 2018. After that, I was looking to do some more hands-on work, so I decided to pursue a job on a farm. For around five years I worked mostly on sheep farms, ranging from those catered towards agrotourism to those focused on biomedical research. During my time as a farmhand, I realized I would love to get into agricultural consulting and help farmers improve their practices-- that’s why I decided to come to Cornell to pursue a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in animal science. I chose this one-year intensive program because it is designed to help career-focused individuals refine their skills through coursework and a hands-on capstone project.
How has your time at Cornell influenced your career goals?
While I came into this program to focus on animal nutrition, I was drawn in by the four-credit Whole-Farm Nutrient Management course that is co-taught by Quirine Ketterings and Mike Van Amburgh in the animal science department.
"Taking whole-farm nutrient management was a highlight for me, it triggered my lightbulb moment and changed my path in life."
The class inspired me to shift my focus from animal nutrition to crop nutrient management and join the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP), which Quirine leads. Beyond my time in the fields as a farmhand, I had no previous experience with crop nutrient management, but I loved the NMSP’s focus on using technology to help farms become more sustainable. I’m excited to dive deeper into my work this semester.
What project are you currently focusing on?
I’m currently working on my capstone project, writing a document about the water quality rules and regulations for animal feeding operations (AFOs) and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in New York State. This includes talking about what goes into a comprehensive nutrient management plan, what farmers need to do to uphold water quality standards in New York, and the certification process planners have to go through to be able to make these plans for farmers.
What will your work contribute to in the big picture?
The plan is for this document to be readily downloadable from the NMSP and PRO-DAIRY websites. Supplementing the document that I am developing now, I hope to make a video about what goes into farm CAFO inspections and a fact sheet about common misconceptions of farms’ environmental practices. I’m honored to be able to write such a valuable document.
I like that this document will be a useful extension publication open to the public, so anyone can see what New York is doing to be proactive about nutrient management. This will help people realize that farmers work very hard to produce crops and milk while maintaining high environmental standards. It’s interesting and exciting to work on creating something which has the potential to help a lot of people.
What are some highlights of this experience? How does this contribute to your long-term professional goals?
Due to the career-focused nature of the MPS program, I had the flexibility to take courses in multiple departments, explore my career interests, and meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I was also able to design the capstone project to meet my career goals– it has given me a lot of knowledge about state regulations, which will be very helpful as I pursue crop consulting. Additionally, through conducting interviews and getting to know the people involved in creating these standards, I have strengthened my interpersonal skills and consulting knowledge while building connections in the industry.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience?
This project would not be possible without my academic advisor Kristan Reed and the subject matter leadership provided by Quirine Ketterings and by Kirsten Workman of the PRO-DAIRY team. All three are guiding me through my first publications. I also want to recognize all of the people I have interviewed about these regulations for being so helpful. The MPS program has been a life-changing experience for me, and I recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.
Madeline Hanscom is a writer for the Nutrient Management Spear Program.
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