Food Animal Production and Local Community Relationships

Apply for FEW Graduate Scholars Program

There are interrelationships between food animal production, local resources (like water and energy) and local stakeholders that ultimately influence local decision-making, economy, animal numbers, and social acceptance overtime for a county or region within a state (Figure 1).

Your challenge is to create a model(s) of relationships between food animal production, local resources, and stakeholders based on history, that identify future opportunities for stability and resilience in these relationships for a series of counties in a region or state.

Your objectives are to:

  1. Identify factors that influence, or are affected by, food animal production for several counties in a state or region;
  2. Document the historical cause-effect relationships that influenced any observed change in livestock development among counties;
  3. Provide recommendations for processes that influence stability in the relationships and resilience in the system/community (and define the scope of recommendation).

The Deliverables

As a team, the cohort will produce the following products and takeaways from this challenge.

  • Plans for team communication and stakeholder engagement that can be adapted for future applications in a participant’s own work;
  • A model of relationships between food animal production, local resources, and stakeholders that demonstrates integrating qualitative and quantitative data in a system model;
  • A presentation of the model and recommendations at the INFEWS-ER symposium; and
  • A summary report for the advisors/INFEWS-ER on the process and results.

For More Information

  • Erin Cortus, University of Minnesota
  • Jacek Koziel, Iowa State University
  • John Classen, NC State University
  • Alison Deviney, NC State University

Each advisor is happy to discuss the challenge in more detail.

Freda Dorbu, North Carolina A&T University

A second-year master’s student in Agribusiness and Food Industry Management at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. My course concentrates on the business aspect of Agriculture activities ensuring that the appropriate mechanisms are applied to provide food to people in a safe environment promoting the sustainability of the environment for the furtherance of the FAO goals. My thesis is on the influence of food attributes on food desert residents purchases, in Eastern Greensboro, North Carolina.


Ben Ndayambaje, University of Nebraska

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the applied ecology department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am interested in the use of data-driven solutions/ statistics to support research findings by applying human-centered design, strategic problem solving, and systems thinking as principles of the “One Health” concept. This concept calls upon multi-disciplinary collaboration to address local, regional, and global challenges at the human, animal, and ecosystem interface. I have a growing interest in understanding the impact of climate change, and the interaction of water resources, land, energy, and food insecurity nexus. Currently, I am working on a project “Linking child stunting, microbiome, livestock health, and water quality: a One Health study in Rwanda-Central Africa”.

Glenda Pereira, University of Minnesota

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Animal Science, and my area of expertise is in dairy cattle management. My Master’s research focused on the application of precision dairy technologies to pasture-based dairy systems. Currently, I am comparing feed efficiency and production traits of crossbred dairy cattle with purebred dairy cattle in confinement and low-input production systems. I am very passionate about the livestock industry and am using my voice to help consumers trust our products, be it milk or meat. Outside of school, I enjoy being outdoors, traveling, learning a new language, or spending time with my boyfriend and cat.


Laura Rubeck, University of Nebraska

MS in Agronomy, specialization in Range and Forage Science, minor in Entomology. I have completed a graduate-level certificate in Grassland Management. For almost six years I have been employed at the US Meat Animal Research Center USDA-ARS in Nebraska in the Range and Forage Department, assisting in managing sheep and cattle grazing as well as vegetative production and growth. I have a background in prairie restoration, wildlife management, working with stakeholders, as well as scientists in completing research. I recently completed my second year of research, Water Quality Within the Presence of Riparian Grazing, evaluating water quality parameters: total E. coli, E. Coli O157:H7, total suspended solids, and nitrate-nitrogen levels within a stream utilizing high-intensity rotational grazing. I have a strong knowledge base of current agricultural production practices and issues.

Noelle Cielito Soriano, University of Minnesota

I’m a first-year MS student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities interested in odor measurement technology in livestock production systems.

Erica Timmermans, Iowa State University

Second-year MS student in Industrial and Agricultural Technology at Iowa State University. My masters work involves manure management and reviewing current application technology coupled with the windows of time available for manure application to evaluate if there is an adequate window of time for a producer given method of storage and application.

Jacqueline Welles, North Carolina State University

My course of study deals with characterization of swine CAFO lagoon sludge for transport modeling purposes to quantify the risk associated with specific lagoons following inundation or breach. I am also involved in a lagoon closure design project for two farms located in Virginia’s Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.