About 400 miles and seven hours away from Manhattan, in the small town of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, Gage Nichols will intern this summer at Christensen Farms, a U.S. pork producer.
Nichols, junior in animal science, said the support from the College of Agriculture and the research experience he gained at Kansas State is something that has helped him along the way.
“K-State has given me every opportunity they can,” Nichols said. “My instructors are always willing to listen and give me advice. They are even happy to help me with my research this summer.”
In previous semesters, Nichols participated in two research projects at K-State.
His first research project took place in two separate trials in the spring and fall semesters of 2016. Nichols’ objective was to measure the accuracy and reliability of swine-feed dispensers.
Victoria Greer, senior in animal sciences, worked alongside Nichols during this project.
“Working with Nichols and the rest of the research team was a great experience,” Greer said. “Working as a team brings new insight to how others think and work.”
Also in the fall of 2016, Nichols worked on another research project. It consisted of monitoring lysine levels, which can affect animal growth, based on the diets of piglets for 21 days.
Involvement at K-State
Aside from his undergraduate research, Nichols has gained agricultural experience through being an agriculture ambassador since his freshman year.
Agriculture ambassadors are students who represent their college and the university for new student recruitment.
“This program really enhances communication skills, which is something needed in the agriculture industry,” Nichols said.
Abbey Horn, senior in agricultural economics and a friend of Nichols, is also an agriculture ambassador.
“As ag ambassadors, we get to travel to conventions to recruit new students,” Horn said. “We even get to help high school FFA students with their career development events.”
When recruiting new students to the College of Agriculture, Nichols tells students they should find an area they are passionate about and to get involved with it.
“Getting involved and getting experience is essential,” Nichols said. “Especially participating in research; it has been a great way for me to get my feet wet before graduate school.”
Nichols plans to pursue a doctoral degree in swine nutrition after he graduates in May of 2018.
After graduate school, Nichols said he sees himself residing in the Midwest, either working in the swine industry or becoming a professor.