Last month I found myself looking for a fun, different Saturday experience to escape studying, getting sucked into lame television shows, or trying to find something downtown. Then I remembered an email from the Animal Sciences Department about the CSU Collegiate Cattlewomen’s “Calf to Brisket Dinner and College.” Well, one of the perks of being a student in theCollege of Agriculture is the meat judging team often provides smoked brisket dinners with all the fixin’s for department events. So I knew dinner was going to rock. What I wasn’t sure of was what the “college” part was about. I decided that the price for dinner and supporting my classmates was way better than anything else I could cook up myself so I headed out to CSU’s Agricultural Research Development and Education campus, ARDEC, north of town. What I didn’t know when I decided to jump into this adventure was just how fun it was going to be.
This event is an annual fundraiser so club members can go to the national convention in the spring. What I got for the ticket price went way beyond dinner. The “college” portion started off with four possible lectures to attend. I went for the Beef Quality Assurance lecture first because I knew Katy Lippolis, the graduate student giving it, and I wondered what her job as a Colorado Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator entailed. I went into the classroom expecting a power point lecture. What I got instead was Beef Quality Assurance Certified! The voluntary program developed by cattle producers to train other cattle producers to use national guidelines based on scientific evidence to protect consumer confidence in beef was a great follow-up to the eight weeks I had just spent in Dr. Grandin’s cattle handling class.
The second lecture I attended was about rangeland management with Dr. Paul Meiman from CSU’s Werner College of Natural Resources. Yes, there was definitely a cattle friendly theme for the evening. One of the best parts of the lecture was the exchange between the speaker and a rancher from eastern Colorado discussing the results he’s finding on his own ranch from the monitoring program. Then I got an extensive tour of ARDEC that went way beyond the Ag department Ram Camp welcome before fall term started.
I got to see a fistulated steer which I always pictured looking like one of those see through anatomy models. You know where you can see the skeleton and organs inside? Well, it’s not like that at all. Instead there’s an opaque rubber ring in the steer’s side with a matching rubber cork in it. When you remove the cork you’re looking inside at forage the steer has eaten and is digesting. It’s actually pretty amazing. The steer is just eating away like nothing’s happening.
Back inside the Taylor Center the meat science students, led by Dr. Dale Woerner, had prepared a beef taste test for us. Some people do wine tastings or beer tastings; I did a beef tasting. I discovered I like dry aged beef and what I thought I knew about grass fed beef wasn’t the reality of what it actually tasted like. After eight plates of four of small beef patties per plate, choosing my favorite and least favorite from each plate, plus a final plate with all eight samples lined up against each other for a final show down….well let’s just say I wasn’t hungry for the brisket dinner. I swear that I didn’t eat them all, I just tasted them!
The post dinner speaker was CSU professor Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz of the Department of Animal Sciences who gave a short but inspiring talk about her experience as a woman in agriculture from her veterinary work to dairy extension agent, and being a wife, mother and teacher. The evening drew to a close with the announcement of the winner of the cow pie bingo—yes, a corral had a grid laid down and whichever square the cow, well, you know… there was a winner! The high bidders of the silent auction paid for their goodies, and the attendees all made their way out into the cold starry Colorado night. I left excited about being in Colorado and how passionate my fellow Ag classmates are about feeding the world.