Shippensburg farm owners, Shippensburg University president switch jobs for Farm City Exchange
By AMBER SOUTH
SHIPPENSBURG — Both are large areas with many different buildings. Both incorporate modern technology into jobs done each day. Both exist because of a specific group of living things.
Who knew Brandt Farm and Shippensburg University had so many similarities?
The leaders of these entities switched roles this week through the Farm City Exchange program to learn about the daily life of the other
Ruud visits the farm
SU President Bill Ruud took a short drive out to the country
With a hands-on attitude, Ruud got into the milking action. But that came after the Brandts, and their adult children Sharon and John Brandt, showed him how they get it done each day.
Cow milking today does not involve sitting on a stool and producing milk in a bucket. Since 1996, the Brandts have used electronic equipment that, after a few buttons are pushed and apparatuses are set up, uses suction to pull milk out of several cows at a time and pushes it toward a large collection cylinder.
After they are led by a person into a waiting area, each cow eventually goes into one of many stalls where a sensor notices their present and initiates the shutting and opening of a gate to let the cow out and keep it in.
Ruud learned all about this practice, and was soon positioned in front of a stall and making his first attempt to attach the suction apparatus to the cow’s utters. With the part’s four nozzles — and a cow that was somewhat unhappy with what was going on — Ruud had a little trouble the first time, but accomplished the task with ease after Mark Brandt pushed a few buttons to adjust the settings.
“I was fascinated by the milking machine. I’m glad they let me do it,” Ruud said.
Prior to his cow-milking lesson, Ruud was engaged in learning about the math that keeps the farm running smoothly. In the farm office, Sharon Brandt explained charts kept saved on the computer that log everything from a cow’s weight, to how much milk produced, to pregnancy status, milk temperature and more.
Keeping with his hands-on tactic, Ruud climbed right up a ladder on a large machine that weighs ingredients used to make feed for cows. John Brandt listed off the number of ingredients that goes into a good mix and the many pounds of each that is needed.
Before leaving, the Brandts gave Ruud products of their work: cheese and Turkey Hill ice cream
See end of story for videos of both experiences
Brandts go to SU
The Brandts swapped their casual clothes for business attire and left their cows for several hours Thursday morning to join Ruud for a tour of his 200-acre domain.
The tour highlighted the number of advantages the university is able to offer its students and the many ways it has changed over the years.
After a trip to the steam plant, where the institution’s heat is produced, the Brandts got a look at the buildings making up the department of education. Ruud explained that the university has an a school on campus — Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School — where SU students can get first-hand experience working in a classroom with children in grades one through five.
When the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center came around, Linda Brandt shared that she and Mark have gone to several shows. Most recently, they attended concerts by Glen Campbell, and Peter, Paul and Mary. She hopes to attend Celtic Woman in the spring.
Mark Brandt revealed after the tour that he found the behind-the-scenes look into the food service department — which SU contracts out to food service company Chartwells — to be one of the most interesting aspects. He, his wife and Ruud moved through the back door of Reisner Dining Hall into the expansive kitchen, where they walked in a large refrigerator and freezer, and moved through to learn where each type of food is prepared.
One of the most popular? Pizza. They learned that 200 pounds of it is consumed every day.
The Brandts got an informative look around an epicenter of upgrades on the campus at the Anthony F. Ceddia Union Building. Just officially opened this summer after several years of renovations, the facility houses game rooms, student lounges, study areas with technology to help students work on projects more efficiently, a food service area and much more.
The farm owners also learned that the CUB is one of several places on campus that are home to a number of free, public events.
“Except for the Luhrs Center, football and basketball (games), most everything we do on campus is free,” Ruud said.
After heading to the library and hearing about how both its appearance and abilities have changed in recent years, the Brandts had a firm grasp on how the school’s many upgrades allow students to be better at what they do.
“The size of the campus here and the modernization, the computerization of the whole campus here was just amazing,” Mark Brandt said. “It surprised me what all’s available to students here on a daily basis.”
But perhaps the most telling of SU’s push to upgrade itself is its new residence halls. Ruud told the Brandts that SU will take ownership of the two buildings in phase one on Nov. 20, and students from the first three old halls to come down will start moving in by winter break.
At near completion, the halls were available for their first visit from people other than construction workers and school officials.
Besides the obvious style change, the Brandts learned that some of the biggest advantages of the new residence halls are larger rooms and more bathrooms.
But, Ruud said, “You’ve got to teach (students) how to clean the bathroom and teach them how to do the wash before they come to college.”
The Brandts walked inside rooms of various styles — including handicap, two-person and four-person suites, regular two-person rooms and two-person rooms with two bedrooms. They also saw the common kitchen, several lounge areas and more.
“The residence halls are nice and I’m sure it would be more conducive for the studnets rather than being crammed in a small room,” Linda Brandt said, adding, “Maybe they might feel that even though they might be away from home, it’ll be home to them.”
Technology is a key aspect in Ruud and the Brandts running their respective facilities everyday. Between the cow-milking mechanics and electronic feed scales on their farm, the Brandts break their backs less. With state-of-the-art computer systems and wireless Internet accessible in many places, Ruud has helped give his students an improved ability to excel.
Ruud was astounded by the effort the Brandts put into running their farm. Even with the technology they have, Ruud said he thinks the job is one of the hardest out there.
“I’m fascinated how they calculate everything. People come everyday and they’re doing 84,000 pounds of milk a week. Thats a lot of milk!” Ruud said.
“Coming to the university was really, really fascinating,” Linda Brandt said. “The size of the university, living just four miles away we didn’t realize what is here.”
Through the Farm City Exchange, both parties found a new respect for one another.
“There’s nobody better than farmers. They’re good people, their hearts are in the right place,” Ruud said. “I had a great time. The Brandts are a fabulous family and more people in Shippensburg need to know them and know what they’re doing for the community.”
Mark Brandt said he is grateful that the opportunity was provided to him and his wife.
“We gained a new respect of knowing what exactly does go on and what’s available to make better neighbors for each other,” Linda Brandt said.
Ruud and the Brandts will share their experiences at the Farm City Exchange Banquet, at 6:30 p.m. A Thanksgiving turkey dinner will be served. Monday at Newburg United Methodist Church, 203 N. High St., Newburg. Tickets, $12, are available through Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce at 53 W. King St., or 532-5509.
Amber South can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4771.